The Violence Against Women Act has changed the landscape in defining the various types of domestic violence and how it is addressed by the courts and in the community. Originally passed in 1994 and expanded three times in the years since, it addresses issues related to spousal abuse, intimate partner violence, and abuse of children on a federal level, while providing grant money for state programs.
Changes in Domestic Violence Laws
Since inception, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) coordinates the response to domestic violence between law enforcement, social service groups, and the courts while guaranteeing interstate enforcement for protective orders. It has been expanded over the years to include:
- Dating violence and stalking as domestic violence crimes;
- Legal assistance for victims of domestic assault and sexual abuse;
- Enhanced programs for child abuse victims;
- Supervised visitation and counseling;
- Tools and resources to protect college students.
Dealing with Domestic Violence through the VAWA in Georgia
The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council advises that in Georgia, the VAWA has provided grants to help break the cycle of domestic violence. Ways in which the state is required to use this money include:
- 25 percent to programs that benefit law enforcement efforts;
- 25 percent to prosecute domestic violence offenders;
- 30 percent to victim services programs;
- 15 percent for discretionary costs;
- The rest to benefit court services and grant administration costs.
Both law enforcement and the court system match all funds given through the VAWA grants. The money is used to train officers and court personnel on how to identify domestic violence and to ensure victims get the services they need.