The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) dramatically reduced sexual and domestic violence – for women and for men.  That’s why the debate about it is so shocking. Across the country, there is a network of state coalitions consisting of nearly 1,000 organizations to prevent sexual and domestic violence and provide support to male and female survivors. There are trained counselors providing support for survivors of sexual assault, free hotlines you can call to learn more about to help survivors heal, beds – perhaps not enough – where you can sleep if your home is not safe and advocates who provide free or low-cost medical and legal services to victims of sexual and domestic violence who could not otherwise afford them. All of these services – and more – are made possible, in part, by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which was passed this week by the House of Representatives after a long and arduous process.  The Violence Against Women Act was crafted by Vice President Biden and first passed in 1994, providing $1.6 billion dollars through a variety of state programs and federal initiatives.  In addition to funding domestic violence shelters and rape crisis programs, VAWA established federal definitions of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking and ensured that police officers, district attorneys, and social service agencies received training to effectively respond to survivors.  Before VAWA, victims of rape had to pay for their own rape kits, which would be like a victim of murder being required to pay for the processing of his or her crime scene, and protection orders against abusers were not necessarily recognized across state lines or on tribal lands. VAWA was fully reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, […]