Critics: New Violence Against Women Act Won’t Protect Students

Published: May 8, 2012

Washington, DC —The Adams Bill, the version of the 2012 re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) currently before the House of Representatives, fails to include protections for college students experiencing abuse and eliminates adequate funding for programs that prevent interpersonal violence on campus, according to Break the Cycle.

“The 2012 reauthorization of the VAWA should be an opportunity to grow upon this landmark legislation’s 12 years of success,” said Break the Cycle’s Director of Public Policy Juley Fulcher. “When the Senate passed S. 1925 in April, they moved the needle forward on VAWA by expanding protections to all victims of domestic violence, while increasing the efficiency of the programs that serve them.”

A wide coalition of those working to prevent abuse and help victims supported S. 1925 from judges to nurses to service organizations like Break the Cycle and Security on Campus, Inc. Part of that expansion included Campus SaVE, a provision of VAWA to help colleges and universities address dating abuse and sexual assault, increase violence-prevention education, improve related campus services and expand university reporting requirements.

“The protections and improvements that serve so many men, women and children are in danger of disappearing,” added Security on Campus Inc.’s Executive Director Alison Kiss. “The Adams version removes the entire Campus SaVE provision, which demonstrates a complete failure to recognize how critical the issues of dating abuse and sexual assault are to this vulnerable population of young people.”

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According to a recent study, 43% of dating college women report having experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, technological or emotional abuse. One in six college women has been a victim of sexual abuse. Among these young victims, 60% report that no one tried to help them and indeed 58% of college students admit they do not know how to help a friend in an abusive relationship.

Break the Cycle’s Executive Director Marjorie Gilberg says, “with such high rates of abuse and poor rates of interventions, universities need a systemic way to improve their formal and informal response to dating violence and sexual assault. Campus SaVE should be included in the 2012 reauthorization of VAWA if we are serious about preventing abuse, helping victims and ensuring a safe learning environment for all of our country’s young people.”

Campus SaVE will:

  • Create greater transparency on colleges and universities by requiring campuses to report the incidents of sexual assault and, for the first time, dating violence that occurs on campus. The language in S. 1925 also includes improvements to address the historical trend of underreporting these crimes.
  • Promote prevention through education programs, public awareness campaigns and effective school policies.
  • Ensure victims get the help they need by clearly defining procedures, including notifying the victim of their right to engage law enforcement, creating a campus plan on how to enforce protection orders and defining disciplinary action.

“The Adams version would divide victims into those House Republicans deem worthy of protecting and those they would let suffer from abuse,” added Dr. Fulcher. “This legislation is not only unacceptable; it’s offensive in its blatant disregard for the health and well-being of our nation’s youth.”

Read the press release.

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