Prior to VAWA more than 60 percent of rape reports did not result in arrests and a rape case was more than twice as likely to be dismissed as a murder case and nearly 40 percent more likely to be dismissed than a robbery case. Tragically, less than half of the individuals arrested for rape were convicted of that offense and even among those convicted, more than half served an average of only 1 year or less behind bars.
The passage of VAWA created a call to action and sent a strong statement that ending violence against women is a national priority. That this crisis deserves the weight of the federal government’s leadership and financial resources.
Incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence have seen significant declines since VAWA took effect, and with each reauthorization of the bill efforts to increase access to services, healing, and justice for survivors have improved.
According to a 2014 Journal of Women’s Health Study, the rate of intimate partner violence (IPV) against females declined 53% between 1993 and 2008, from 9.4 victimizations per 1,000 females aged 12 years or older to 4.3 victimizations per 1,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Additionally, there was a 51% increase in reporting of IPV after mandatory arrest laws of VAWA went into effect, and that there is 63% decrease of nonfatal violence and 24% decrease in fatal violence.
Unfortunately, in recent years the numbers have stopped declining, and there was a devastating increase in intimate partner violence brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the most recent 2022, reauthorization funding for many of VAWA’s flagship programs has remained stagnant over the past decade, likely curbing its impact. Advocates hope that with the recent reauthorization and improvements we will again see significant declines in rates of violence against women and a renewed focus on prevention as well as justice for victims.