Violence against women and children affects everyone in Champaign County in some way. In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was a giant step forward for our nation. Its passage meant that our federal government finally acknowledged that domestic and sexual violence cause tremendous harm, and put resources into helping victims. Millions of families are better off as a result.
Project Woman was founded in 1974. It was one of the first rape crisis and domestic violence programs in the state of Ohio! This was long before the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in to law. We certainly have come a long way since then including expansion in services in recent years. VAWA has touched so many lives; ensuring protections, rights, and providing funding to build access to essential services.
The time has come to again reauthorize this critical legislation. Evidence shows that VAWA is working. Over the last 15 years, domestic and sexual violence have declined. But there is more work to do. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee has introduced a VAWA reauthorization that invests in prevention, increases access to safety and justice for Native women, and provides critical protections and services for all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
We cannot afford to go backwards; every VAWA reauthorization has strengthened protections and services for victims and survivors, and the 2018 reauthorization cannot must not be an exception. We must build on previous gains to protect all members of our community from violence.
Laura Baxter, Executive Director
Project Woman of Ohio