NASW celebrates the bipartisan passage and enactment of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3623), part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022. The measure reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) until 2027. VAWA strengthens rape prevention and education efforts, provides legal funding and increased support for marginalized communities (including LGBTQ survivors of such crimes), and expands special criminal jurisdiction by tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault. NASW has long-supported and advocated for VAWA reauthorization, underscoring the importance of this legislation in our 2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities. The legislation was informed by extensive work with survivors, direct service providers, and other stakeholders. Although VAWA’s authorization expired in 2018, reauthorization became even more imperative due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in increased risk for domestic violence and sexual assault. Lockdowns and stay at home orders increased time victims had to spend with potential perpetrators, which in turn resulted in initial increases in call volumes to domestic violence hotlines.
Furthermore, the pandemic exacerbated financial entanglement by increasing risk of job loss and unemployment, particularly among people of color, immigrants, and individuals without a college education. In addition to the VAWA reauthorization, the $1.5-trillion omnibus spending package makes substantial investments in other key areas relevant to social workers:
enhancing access to mental health and substance use services across the lifespan and care continuum; --preserving access to care via the delivery of telehealth services;
investing in a broad array of mental health programs that bolster mental health training;
resourcing early intervention and prevention services;
delivering care to vulnerable populations; and
expanding access to crisis response services.
“This victory has been a long time coming,” says NASW Virginia and Metro DC Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “Protecting women from violent crimes and providing resources and support to victims of sexual assault have been top priorities of our organization’s national and local policy agendas. We also are very pleased with the mental health and telehealth provisions that will improve access and support to all Americans.”