What VAWA Means to Me

By Miri Cypers, Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist

Yesterday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced legislation, that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for another 5 years. This big moment, one JWI has been working up to for over two years, gave me some pause: time to think about what this legislation and these issues really mean to me.

I began working at JWI not even six months ago. At the time, my life was a whirlwind. I was weeks away from my wedding and on top of that I had to become an expert on anti-violence policy. I have always cared deeply about issues and legislation affecting women and girls, but I never quite understood the impact of violence against women on all sectors of society.

After six months of working on language, advocacy, and strategy around the reauthorization bill, I recognize that violence against women is a cross-cutting issue affecting every community and every woman in the U.S. and in the world. If we ourselves are not victims of violence or abuse, we know someone who is- a mother, a friend, a sister, or a daughter. After only six months of working on VAWA, I can now say that these issues are ones that I will care about and advocate for my entire life. One in four women in our country will experience violence or abuse in her lifetime, and with this new bill, the number will be a step closer to zero. 

At a recent Congressional briefing JWI organized, one of the speakers on the panel who was a victim of violence talked about her life in the “pre-VAWA world.” She was experiencing physical violence and when she called the police, they walked her abuser around the block for some fresh air and placed him right back on her doorstep, only to terrorize her again. I could not imagine living in the “pre-VAWA world.” For this reason, I work every day at JWI to ensure that every woman in our country can enjoy the security and stability- and I hope you join me. Tweet us, write us on Facebook, and comment on this post on what VAWA means to you.


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