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What is the Violence Against Women Act?

As an immigrant residing in California, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is an important piece of legislation. Why? Because it can offer you the ability to stay in the country if you are at risk of sex or gender-based violence.

First, it is important to understand the act itself. How does it work? What does it protect? And do you fall under its care?

What are the goals of VAWA?

The New York Times did a piece focusing on the tumultuous history of the Violence Against Women Act, which gets renewed every few years by Congress. The bill has three primary goals, which are “broad but simple”. These goals are to protect women’s civil rights, to make the streets safer for them and to make homes safer for them. It aims to reduce the stigma of domestic violence and provide safe havens for victims of abuse.

Due to VAWA, the National Domestic Violence Hotline got established. Next, the Department of Justice established the Office on Violence Against Women. Over $7 billion in federal grants went to programs aimed to prevent issues like stalking, dating violence and sexual assault. It helped with the funding of community programs and shelters. It also funded studies that focus on tracking violence against women.

Provisions for undocumented immigrants

It was in 2013 that the bill got renewed once more. It included a provision allowing visas for abused undocumented immigrants. The bill has more nondiscrimination protections now, too. They cover anyone seeking aid from a grant-funded organization.

As an immigrant suffering from domestic abuse or violence, VAWA can provide you with the relief you seek. It is one more avenue you can explore when looking through your options.