House GOP lets the Violence Against Women Act expire for first time since 1994

Here’s the sad truth: It is not all surprising that House Republicans have blocked the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) a final time, officially allowing it to expire until the next Congress. This is the first time since the VAWA was first passed in 1994 that it has failed to be re-authorized. The VAWA is normally a bipartisan bill that passes without controversy.

But not under these House Republicans. Given their track record for doing nothing productive for the American people they were elected to represent, it’s not surprising they would throw victims of domestic violence and sexual assault under the bus because they want to ensure no assistance is given to Native Americans, LGBT folks, and immigrants. Rep. Eric Cantor and his ilk are literally blocking the re-authorization because the updated bill expands access to help to certain types of people Republicans don’t want to help. Ya know, just like Jesus.

It’s also not surprising, because this is the same crew of winners that recently blocked funding for the disabled and for victims of Hurricane Sandy. 

In short: House Republicans will do anything to pretend they are sticking to invented conservative orthodoxy and ideologies that don’t align with any pragmatic form of governance here on earth.

The expiration of the VAWA hits home for me personally. Everyone who reads this site knows, I’m a rape survivor. After my assault, I went to get free counseling at a rape crisis center. Funding of which is provided by the VAWA.

When I searched for free counseling and jotted down the numbers to call, hoping to get help in my time of need, I had to call THREE different places before I was able to secure an appointment. The first two were all booked up for weeks and in my traumatized state I pressed on knowing that I would need the counseling to process fully what happened to me.

All survivors know that the immediate aftermath is a particularly sensitive time, with feelings of guilt, blame, rage, fear, anger, confusion, denial, depression and sadness. In many ways, I think it is similar to the stages of grief.

It’s essential that these feelings be processed with the help of a professional. All survivors know that your family and friends, no matter how well meaning, may not have the capacity to help you process all of these complex emotions and the trauma associated with being victimized.

That is why the VAWA is absolutely necessary. And that is why the Republican failure to pass the re-authorization that was sent to them by the Senate in April is a failure that should go down in the history books.

Rape happens to Republicans. It’s a shame that partisan politics couldn’t be put aside to pass a bill that shouldn’t even be up for a debate. The election came and went and all of the pundits forgot about the “War on Women.” I’m here to tell you it’s not over, it continues on in earnest, and it won’t ever be over until elected officials stop pretending like sexual assault and domestic violence happen to someone else. It doesn’t happen to someone else; it can happen to anyone.

Join the Conversation

  • Brüno

    I am confused. Werent we set against VAWA because it has been changed?

  • scottishtanningsecrets

    Thank you so much for including your personal story in this post–adding a human face to issues like this really brings out the importance of legislation like VAWA in a way school books can’t, I recently sent a letter about the treaty addressing disability that the U.S. failed to sign (you’d think this would be a no-brainer since the UN treaty was based on our own legislation). I hope that hearing from someone with a disability will at least give the dissenters pause.

  • budoinbatu

    How dare they?!!! Without this bill, there will be an insurmountable increase in violence against women! We must start up a new special interest group to outlaw violence against women! We need more money from the government, even if they go broke! Are you with me girls???! Can we do it? Yes we can!

  • David Hymes

    It amazes me that so many American’s believe that the federal government should take care of them for issues such as this. This is not an issue where the government should steal money from me to provide you with free counseling, if you have medical insurance then use it to get the counseling that you need, if you don’t have medical insurance then that is your fault.

    If women should receive free counseling when rapped, why shouldn’t I receive free counseling when my mother or father dies, or when I am bullied at work or school, or my child becomes addicted to drugs? At what point should we draw the line?

    It is people like you who would believe that it is the governments responsibility to take care of you from cradle to grave when in fact it is your individual responsibility to take care of your self, once we as Americans wake up to this fact then maybe we can stop spending so much money on this tyrannical government.

    I am sorry that you were raped, however this is not the responsibility of the federal government to assist you, it is yours.

  • Steve

    I am glad the sexist act has died. Now a gender neutral one can be made in its place and men can get some very much needed help they have not been getting for years from the violence they face and that maybe just maybe we can not make males the overwhelming majority of victims of violent crimes.

    • Quinlan

      I’m not sure I understand your arguments. In what way is this act sexist? Because it pertains to the needs of a certain group? If violence against men is the problem you say it is then it would make sense to propose the Violence Against Men Act but I’m not sure how that pertains to VAWA. When legislators pass law mandating access ramps for citizens in wheelchairs is the act discriminatory against everyone not in wheelchairs? Bills are made to certain ends and this particular bill addresses issues pertaining to violence against women.

  • Mary Ann
  • Richard

    It pains me that so many men are so self righteous an arrogant regarding this issue. Mr. Hymes your are a fool and have in no way ever been affect by this issue. Being raped or having other violent attacks done upon you is far different emotional, physical and generally than ones parents dieing. Things like rape, domestic violence and so forth take away a person sense of security, they well being and overall trust in people. Having assistance that allows one who to seek help I feel should be a non-issue and should be something provided by the government. I see no problem with this act existing. I am very much bothered that our government would allow such an act to expire because they don’t want to extend it to those they don’t deem worthy. Oh and this coming from a guy.

    • Dman

      While I agree that a parent dying or a child becoming addicted to drugs comes no where near the emotional or mental hardship that being a victim of rape or domestic violence does I am a supporter of revamping this bill. This bill should benefit both genders who have been victims of DV or rape and there should be twice as much money available. This is not a gender problem it is a societal one.

      • Maya

        For the record, the VAWA already benefits victims of both genders. While the law is called the Violence Against Women Act because the majority of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are women, its services are available to all victims regardless of gender–men, women, and children. So it doesn’t been any revamping to address your concern–although I agree it should provide more funding!

  • Calvin Hobbes

    Yes, let’s get the government involved in mental health care as well as physical health care. Look what a fine job they’ve done with the latter!

  • Anjana

    Many might accuse us for wanting the federal government to take care of our problems and I have seen comments that also suggest that the federal government should provide counseling every time tragedy strikes. It is extremely painful when someone loses a family member or has a child that gets into drugs. But being raped or sexually assaulted is completely different. Although I have never experienced it, it is my understanding that there is nothing that could violate you more, body and soul. For that reason, women–and men, for that matter– should be able to get access to some type of counseling service after the attack, when they are most mentally fragile.

    For people who are wondering about violence against men, you aren’t wrong or alone. My understanding is that VAWA was created to deal with abuse against women, which tends to happen more often. However, this shouldn’t mean that male victims shouldn’t get the same access.

    VAWA with some changes, anyone?

    • Dman

      I agree Anjana VAPA (Violence Against People Act) 2013!!!!