Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

In 1970 Lillian Hashiba Trimble was murdered by her husband. Lillian  grew up on the farm next to my mother’s family in rural Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. The families were very close, and my mother and Lillian were close friends from childhood through college. At the time she was killed, I was a child, and my mother only told us that her friend had died, and the children were going to live with their maternal aunt and uncle. Always an inquisitive child, I know I asked my mother many times why the children could not live with their father; she just said he could not take care of the children. That did not make sense to my child’s mind and my personal experiences with a loving family.

I was in my twenties when my mother told me the whole story. Lillian’s husband shot her in front of their two children (ages 2 and 3), took the children to his sister’s home, and fled to Canada (they were living in New Jersey). He was later apprehended, extradited back to the US, and killed himself in prison.

I have two friends whose mothers were murdered, one by a stepfather, the other’s case remains an unsolved murder. Violence against women is not a new story. “In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.” National Organization for Women.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as: “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional or psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.” Every nine seconds a woman in the United States is beaten or sexually assaulted.

In early October, writer Kelly Oxford tweeted about the first time she was assaulted, at the age of 12 on a city bus when an older man grabbed her genitals. She asked others to tweet their experiences, using the hashtag #notokay. A million women responded. “Groped. Penetrated. Rubbed against. Exposed. Masturbated on. Stalked. Slapped. Raped. Forcibly kissed.” are some of the comments they tweeted.


The outpouring of sharing moved me to share the information above, something which I had not shared before. As women we have all had our own experiences or know the experiences of friends and family who have been sexually assaulted and/or beaten.

The Violence Against Women Act was passed by Congress in 1994. “VAWA provides $1.6 billion over six years for education, research, treatment of domestic and sex-crime victims, and the improvement of state criminal justice systems. It also distributed funds to increase safety for women on public transportation, for shelters, and for youth education programs. In addition, it provides funds for the training of judges and other court personnel in combating gender bias in the courts, and also authorizes funding to pay the cost of testing for sexually transmitted diseases for victims of Sexual Abuse and to increase safety on college campuses.”

Federal grant funding to local governments to improve the keeping of crime statistics and for the protection of battered immigrant women and children is managed by the U.S. Department of Justice, now run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who voted against VAWA funding as a Senator in 2012.

“Last October, Sessions was asked about the controversial 2005 Access Hollywood video that showed Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitals without their consent. ‘I don’t characterize that as sexual assault,’ he told the Weekly Standard. ‘I think that’s a stretch.’ […]”Daily Kos. Sessions appears to have forgotten everything he learned in law school. Trump’s comments definitely describe a sexual assault.

“Sessions has been silent on his plans for the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, which is responsible for enforcing VAWA and funding services for victims. But a blueprint from the Heritage Foundation—a powerful conservative group with close ties to the Trump team—calls for eliminating all Violence Against Women grants.” Daily Kos.

President Trump has indicated his intent to cut funding for the 25 VAWA grant programs currently administered by the Justice Department. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’s proposed budget would cut state funding for violence against women programs in half.

Please consider donating to your local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs. In Lincoln, those programs are Voices of Hope and Friendship Home. Voices of Hope runs the crisis line for domestic violence, sexual assault, and incest; they also provide counseling, support groups, support victims in emergency rooms, accompany survivors to court, and assist in obtaining protection orders. Friendship Home provides safety planning, emergency shelter, and transitional services for domestic violence victims and their families.

Nebraska Legislature Update – Monday, March 6, 2017, is Day 41 of the session. The temporary rules have been extended until Day 50. No permanent rules have been passed. They spent 3 days last week discussing LB46A, an appropriations bill for the offensively political “Choose Life” license plate. Stay tuned to see if they can pass a budget in the remaining days.

Author: bachigirl

I am a lawyer, a knitter, a crocheter, a neophyte weaver, a very mediocre golfer, a native Nebraskan, and a reader.

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