Senator Jay Rockefeller today said Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 is a big step forward in protecting West Virginia families from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Rockefeller was an original co-sponsor of VAWA when it passed in 1994, and a co-sponsor of today's bill to reauthorize the historic measure.
"Everyone deserves to be safe from abuse. Last week I talked with survivors from across the state who bravely shared their personal journeys to break free from violence. The resources provided though the reauthorization of VAWA can literally save lives," Rockefeller said. "Today, I'm calling on the House of Representatives to step up to the plate, pass this bill and join us in protecting women, children and all victims of domestic violence."
Today's vote comes amid a national debate on protecting women and families from domestic violence. Long a priority for Rockefeller, the Senator held a roundtable discussion in Martinsburg on Friday with those who work in the field, as well as survivors of abuse. Rockefeller held a similar discussion in Charleston last May.
VAWA programs provided West Virginia with more than $3.9 million last year for enforcement and victims' services. The Violence Against Women Act was the first major federal initiative to address domestic violence and related crimes. The nation's first federal case prosecuted under VAWA was in West Virginia.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 would renew programs that help law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. In addition, it includes an increased focus on sexual
assault, efforts to prevent domestic violence homicides, expanded protections for underserved communities, and a provision enabling West Virginia to qualify for a greater share of funding under the Rural Grants Program.
Throughout his public service career, Rockefeller has advocated on numerous fronts for victims of domestic violence:
As Governor, in 1979, signed legislation that, for the first time, gave domestic violence victims in West Virginia the right to receive protective orders in civil courts, affording them new protections by the justice system;
Was an original cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act of 1993, which passed the following year as part of broader crime legislation;
Co-sponsored VAWA's reauthorization in 2000, 2005, 2011 and 2013;
Each year writes colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging their continued support for federal funding for VAWA programs.