Senator Chuck Schumer stopped at Vera House today to call on senate leadership to allow a vote on the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. The legislation expired eight months ago, and the House already passed a five-year extension.
“There are a lot of government programs that they say don’t work. No one says this doesn’t work. Spousal abuse [and] domestic violence [are] down by half in 25 years. It’s been a huge success.”
But Schumer blames Mitch McConnell for blocking it in the Senate. He suspects one reason might be a provision that closes the “Boyfriend Loophole,” meaning it will prevent abusers beyond spouses from purchasing guns.
“If the husband beat the wife, you wouldn’t want him to get a gun. Lord knows what would happen next. But what happens if it’s a boyfriend? What happens if it’s a fiancé? What happens if it’s a live-in, non-married [partner]? So this just adds that. It should be non-controversial,” Schumer says.
Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman says the law needs to be more inclusive.
“The majority of cases of dating [and] domestic violence in our own community, and many of the attempted homicides and homicides have, in fact, involved people who are not married under the law, but who are experiencing the exact same fear, humiliation, [and] hurt that somebody who’s a spouse would be. So in a sense it feels almost like discrimination against a victim who isn’t married.”
The legislation will increase funding for support services and housing for domestic abuse victims and survivors, including transitional housing. VAWA would also continue a Training program for Officers and Prosecutors, as well as The Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus program.
A report released by Vera House on Oct. 4th states that between them and the local justice system, 23,401 calls about sexual or domestic violence were received in 2018. Vera House was able to aid 1,562 victims, and offer shelter to 323. Schumer says the statistics highlight the need to pass the extension and reauthorization of VAWA.