Statement by YWCA USA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.
“The YWCA is proud to honor the 20thanniversary of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), a law that has reduced and prevented violence against women and girls in the United States. Violence against women impacts the lives of millions of women and their families; on average, one in four women experience domestic violence, and one in five experience sexual assault. Violence – ranging from domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, trafficking and stalking – affects women and girls of all ages, income levels, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and religious affiliations. As one of the largest providers of anti-violence programs and services in the country, the YWCA will continue to prioritize and support women’s safety, security and empowerment through national advocacy and the incredible work of our over 200 local associations.
Since VAWA was first passed in 1994, domestic violence reporting has increased 51 percent, and all states have strengthened rape laws and made stalking a crime. Each reauthorization has included critical improvements, such as added protections for immigrant, Native and LGBT victims of violence. VAWA has dramatically changed the way communities understand and respond to gender-based violence through streamlined criminal justice responses to violence against women, enhanced education and training, and funding streams for direct service programs to adequately service their community’s needs.”