Durbin: We Need To Modernize & Reauthorize The Violence Against Women Act

Earlier today, Durbin joined with Senators Feinstein, Ernst, and Murkowski to announce a bipartisan framework to modernize and reauthorize VAWA

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke in support of the recently announced bipartisan framework to modernize and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bipartisan framework was announced earlier today by Durbin and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).


“This afternoon, Senators Ernst, Feinstein, Murkowski, and myself announced that we have reached a bipartisan agreement, and we will be introducing an updated version of VAWA next month when we return,” Durbin said.  “We are coming together in support of a simple premise—that VAWA will save lives.  We need to ensure every survivor—whether they live in a rural Alaska or urban Illinois—can reach out for a lifeline in a moment of crisis.”


Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.


Durbin also submitted for the record the story of a survivor named Meaghan, who shared her experience with domestic violence and how service providers have helped her and her family heal.  After surviving a brutal assault by her ex-husband, Meaghan and her family found much-needed compassion and support in the detectives and social workers that came to their aid.  Meaghan wrote that service providers “were patient with me and didn’t push me, [they] only showed me they cared, and most of all didn’t give up… with their support and guidance I found the light at the end of the tunnel and I fought my way out of the darkness that my ex-husband had cast… on my life.”


Meaghan’s story illustrates how laws like VAWA have the potential to change, and even save, lives.  In her case, VAWA provided critical resources to law enforcement and social service agencies that helped her and her family escape a perilous situation.


The bipartisan VAWA framework includes the following provisions:


  • Strengthens rape prevention and education efforts and services and protections for young survivors;


  • Expands access to emergency housing support for survivors;


  • Expands and authorizes programs to ensure that VAWA provides access to survivors in rural areas, survivors requiring culturally specific services, LGBT survivors and survivors who seek voluntary, community-based restorative practice services;


  • Provides support for legal services funding and trauma-informed law enforcement responses;


  • Aligns the current law with VAWA’s original intent by ensuring that individuals who are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a dating partner are prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition (the provision would apply only to protective orders and convictions issued after the VAWA reauthorization’s date of enactment);


  • Improves the response to sexual violence, including through grants to promote the training of sexual assault forensic examiners; and


  • Builds on the 2013 reauthorization to expand special criminal jurisdiction by tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands. It also includes an Alaska pilot program which will empower a limited number of Tribes to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes that occur in Alaska Native villages.