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(VAWA 2019), which includes significant, forward-looking improvements and innovations proposed by advocates, survivors, lawyers, experts, prosecutors, and law enforcement who are in the trenches protecting and supporting survivors. Last week, signed on to the Senate version of the House-passed bill. But, Leader McConnell is refusing to bring the bill to the floor in the Senate. There’s no reason the Senate shouldn’t pass this reauthorization now and enact it long before President Biden’s first day in office. But if they don’t, Joe Biden will make enacting the VAWA reauthorization one of his top first 100 day priorities.

In addition, President Joe Biden will build on his strong track record of getting things done by:

Building on the Landmark Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act has two goals: make women safer, and protect women’s civil rights. 

Joe Biden introduced the law in 1990, when domestic violence was considered a family matter and few in Congress wanted to work on the issue. Over the next three years, Senator Biden used his role on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to hear directly from survivors, hours of testimony, about their with domestic violence and sexual assault and from experts armed with reports and data.  

In 1993, Senator Biden , “Through this process, I have become convinced that violence against women reflects as much a failure of our nation’s collective moral imagination as it does the failure of our nation’s laws and regulations.” That moral outrage fueled Biden’s relentless drive to pass a bill even in the face of from the Bush Administration, the then-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and conservatives in Congress. After four years of work, the Act passed in September 1994 with significant bipartisan support.

But Biden didn’t stop at final passage of the Act. For nearly three decades, Joe Biden has worked so that the ambition of the Violence Against Women Act didn’t get lost in bureaucracy or bogged down by partisanship. Instead, his legislation has become a cornerstone for the movement to end violence against women. Since 1994, Biden has led efforts to ensure Congress passed legislation renewing and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013. time, the VAWA reauthorization has upped the ante and ensured that especially vulnerable communities – from Native women to LGBTQ individuals – are included in the Act.

The Violence Against Women Act has worked. Between the Violence Against Women Act’s implementation in 1994 and 2011, serious victimization by an intimate partner declined by . But, there is still more work to do. Now is no time to turn back, or even to simply sit still. Today, as many as women are subjected to physical violence, rape and/or stalking by a partner at some point in their lives. The rate is even higher for , , and


As president, Biden will strengthen social supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, helping victims secure housing, gain economic stability, and recover from the trauma of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has domestic violence as a top driver of family homelessness, and points to domestic violence as a key cause of homelessness for many women. And, domestic violence survivors and their children often live in unstable housing conditions, such as with relatives or friends in crowded and potentially exploitative conditions or returning to abusive partners. demonstrates that providing flexibility in eligibility, services, and support helps survivors feel safer and rebuild their lives after violence.

The Biden plan will cut through the red tape that can slow down assistance and limit options for survivors. Specifically, Biden will:


The Biden Administration will help educate and empower young people with the knowledge and tools they need to prevent sexual violence and dating violence, with a focus on online harassment and enforcing protections. Biden will:


Technology brings with it new obligations and policy challenges. Nearly of all Internet users report experiences of harassment or abuse. The Biden Administration will shine a light on the online harassment, stalking, and abuse that now is a too-frequent reality for Americans, particularly for young people and women. Joe Biden recognizes that culture change must extend to our online lives, whether clamping down on “,” online stalking, or intimate partner digital abuse.  


For too many survivors, justice is out of reach. Many are denied the power to sue wrongdoers on their own. An abuser facing criminal charges has an undeniable right to an attorney, but if the victim needs to get a restraining order or battle for custody, they either have to pay for one or find one pro bono, or they are entirely on their own. In addition, workplace contracts often bar workers who experience sexual harassment or assault in the workplace from their day in court. 

As president, Biden will:


Joe Biden has been on the forefront of the fight to harness the power of DNA testing and bring justice and security to victims of sexual violence. In 2002, then-Senator Biden invited a brave survivor, Debbie Smith, to testify in front of the United States Judiciary Committee about her harrowing experience and the cruel and inexcusable rape kit backlog that left her without accountability and closure until several years after her attack. In 2004, he championed the first addressing the rape kit backlog at crime labs that was signed into law. In 2015, as Vice President, Biden led the charge to secure the first in the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to begin addressing the estimated untested rape kits that were sitting on shelves in police property rooms across the country. 

Over the years, we have learned much more about how these backlogs accrue and what needs to happen to change that. But there are still far too many untested kits. Survivors need to feel confident that when they report a sexual assault, they will be believed, taken seriously, and that the crime will be investigated thoroughly. Joe Biden will invest the resources needed to end this problem through a multidisciplinary approach that improves the law enforcement response, supports survivors, and engages policy makers at every level. Specifically, President Biden will:


The statistics tell a devastating and overwhelming story. The likelihood that a woman in a domestic violence situation will be killed increases by a if a gun is nearby. of mass shootings involve an individual shooting a family member or former intimate partner. This deadly connection tragically impacts children as well: of children killed in shootings with four or more victims were involved in domestic or family violence.

Biden recognizes that the gun violence and domestic violence epidemics are linked and cannot be solved in isolation. Addressing the interconnectedness of these challenges will be a core focus of Biden’s anti-violence work as president. 

The House-passed , which Leader McConnell refuses to bring to the floor for a vote, includes a number of reforms to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers. Senator McConnell should ensure this legislation gets passed long before President Biden would take the oath of office. 

But if McConnell refuses to act, Biden will enact legislation to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” by prohibiting all individuals convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim. This proposal is modeled after existing in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. Biden also supports enacting the to prohibit anyone under a temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm before their hearing.

In addition, President Biden will:

  • Establish a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As highlighted above, Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings, extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of harassment and response, and best practices. 
  • Expand the use of evidence-based lethality assessments by law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Lethality assessments, sometimes called “risk” or “danger” assessments, are a proven strategy to help law enforcement officers identify domestic violence survivors who are at high risk of being killed by their abusers. These survivors are then connected with social service programs that can offer services and safety planning. An evaluation of the Lethality Assessment Program (LEP) created by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence showed promising results. Increased federal funding will incentivize jurisdictions to take advantage of implementing these programs more widely.

Read Joe’s full plan to end gun violence at


In 1990, when Biden began working on VAWA, domestic violence was considered a family affair. In recent years, the #MeToo movement has forced a national reckoning on the depth and breadth of sexual harassment and violence in our workplaces, our campuses, and our communities. Biden has long believed that lasting change starts with addressing the culture and engaging everyone to stand up and speak out against harassment and assault. Building on the success of campaigns targeted at young people, the Biden Administration will launch tools like innovative social awareness campaigns to expand the national movement to end rape culture. It’s on all of us to end the violence.


Each reauthorization of VAWA that Vice President Biden has championed has included an expansion of efforts to support the diverse needs of survivors who are disproportionately affected by violence against women and also often face structural and systemic barriers to accessing justice, safety, and well-being. But, we must do more to meet the needs of women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, transgender individuals, American Indian and Alaska Native women, older women, women with disabilities, and low-income women and survivors impacted at the intersections of underserved populations.

  • According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nationally, of Black women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • More than Hispanic women have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner at one point in their lives, and Hispanic women experienced this violence in the last 12 months.
  • Approximately of Native women are subject to sexual violence in their lives, with more than experiencing it in the past year. Nearly report being stalked.
  • According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, of transgender adults have been subject to intimate partner violence in their lives; of transgender adults report experiencing sexual assault at some point in their lifetime, with Black transgender adults sexually assaulted at a higher lifetime rate of .

The Biden Administration will push forward work to strengthen and expand VAWA’s reach to women in marginalized communities by:

In addition, the Biden Administration will pursue the following proposals to support , transgender individuals, and who are too often left out of current VAWA programs.


Fleeing abuse should never mean risking deportation. In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act created important safeguards to assist immigrants married to abusive spouses who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents by allowing them to self-petition, rather than allowing abusers to maintain control over the victims’ immigration status as a way to keep them trapped in an abusive relationship. Since then, each subsequent reauthorization of VAWA has strengthened protections and support for immigrant victims. VAWA 2000, in conjunction with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, created two new classes of nonimmigrant visa to protect non-citizens who are the victims of crimes and who agree to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those crimes. The T-visa permits human trafficking victims to stay in the U.S. and the U-visa ensures that non-citizen victims of multiple categories of crimes (including domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault) are able to report violations to authorities without fearing for their legal status.  

While Biden continually sought to remove barriers for immigrant women, the Trump Administration continues to place these survivors in jeopardy. Biden will reverse these setbacks and then go further to protect and empower immigrant women who are survivors of domestic violence and abuse.


Violence against women and girls of all ages is a global epidemic: from ; to ; to , , and elsewhere; to the use of rape as a weapon of war in and . women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime, and in some countries, that’s true for 70% of women. 

Throughout his career, Joe Biden has helped lead U.S. efforts to end this violence regardless of where it occurs. In 2007, then-Senator Biden expanded on his legacy addressing violence against women and girls, with the introduction of the (IVAWA). IVAWA provided a framework for the United States to address gender-based violence around the world through a comprehensive approach that promoted legal reform, changes in social norms, health and safety, and access to educational and economic opportunities. While IVAWA was never enacted, the Obama-Biden administration used to implement much of the bill and its comprehensive approach to gender-based violence. With a series of State Department strategies and plans on women, peace, and security; adolescent girls; women’s economic empowerment; and gender-based violence, the Administration focused its diplomatic, development, and even military efforts on promoting the health, safety, and empowerment of women and girls around the world. 

As powerful as the Obama-Biden Administration’s programs and policies were, one of the best tools the Administration had in persuading other countries to focus on this issue was its own legacy with the Violence Against Women Act, which has given the United States credibility to address gender-based violence on the international stage. 

As president, Biden will restore respected U.S. leadership in foreign affairs, leading not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. The Biden Administration will return to a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, championing the fundamental human right of all women and girls to live free from violence – a future made more possible in the United States through the Violence Against Women Act.