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Social Welfare Policy Analysis Paper

Jennifer Erickson


SWRK 402


I.   Overview and Social Problem Identification

The topic I chose is Domestic Violence and the policy I’m going to be focusing on is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) . This policy was first established and written into law in 1994 by President Clinton. This policy was made to combat violence against women and provide protection to women who had suffered violent abuses (Lynch 2017). This act was also meant to address and call attention to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

According to the United States Department of Justice, domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person (Domestic Violence 2017) .

Many people are affected by domestic abuse. Although women experience domestic violence more than men, men still are affected by this as well. A study was conducted, and results had shown in 2010 that approximately 7 million women and 5.7 million men experienced physical violence, rape, and/or stalking by their intimate partners. In that same year, 16.6 million women and 20.5 million men experienced emotional abuse by their intimate partners (Fernandes- Alcantara 2014). This goes to show that it’s not only women being abused and treated this way by their partners. It also very much affects men as well. Women experienced more physical abuse than men, but men experienced more emotional abuse than women. Not only those who are abused are affected by domestic violence, but if there are children involved, they are extremely affected as well. If the child has been brought up witnessing domestic violence in the household, that can really affect the child later in life to have social and physical problems. Exposure to this at home also teaches the child that violence is a normal way of life and can influence their behavior in the future to be violent too. Getting children into a safe environment is very important in these situations even if they are not directly being abused. Domestic violence also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large (Domestic Violence 2017).

II.   Historical Analysis

There is a long timeline of history about domestic violence in the United States before the Violence Against Women Act was introduced. One significant law that was passed in 1878 was the Matrimonial Causes Act. This act allows victims of violence to obtain a legal separation from the husband; entitles them custody of the children; and to retain earnings and property secured during the separation. Such a separation order can only be obtained if the husband has been convicted of aggravated assault and the court considers her in grave danger (History of Battered Women’s Movement 2009). At this point, it was always legal for husbands to beat their wives, but people were starting to realize that allowing this puts many people in danger and created a law to finally do something about it.

In the 1960’s, Al-Anon programs teamed up with Rainbow Retreat and Haven House to treat battered women married to alcoholic men. During an eight-year span, Haven House has sheltered over women and children. This was a good program to start because it saved and prevented many women and children from being hurt in the future. In 1972, the first rape crisis hotline opens in Washington DC. In 1975, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis is formed in New York. This program offers referral service and group counseling sessions to wives who need help breaking out of the victim syndrome (History of Battered Women’s Movement 2009).

In 1976, the Domestic Violence Act is passed, and many more programs and housing centers are opening around the US as well. In 1982, there is an estimated 300 to 700 shelters and safe home projects around the nation serving 91,000 women and 131,000 children each year (History of Battered Women’s Movement 2009). In 1988, the Victims of Crime Act is passed and requires state victim compensation programs to make award to the victims of domestic violence.

All of this happened before VAWA even was established. I think a lot has changed over time. We are helping more and more women and children get the help and support they need from being in an abusive relationship. I believe these changes have been very good for our country and we need to keep protecting those who are in dangerous situations or environments to get out. By reauthorization of this law over the years, we are doing exactly that. When this law first was enacted in 1994, is was designed to improve criminal justice responses to domestic violence and increase the availability of services to those victims (History of VAWA 2009).

The VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 which improved protections for battered immigrants, sexual assault survivors, and victims of dating violence. It enabled domestic violence victims who flee across state lines to obtain custody orders without returning to jurisdictions where they may be in danger and improved enforcement of protection orders across state and tribal lines. When VAWA was reauthorized again in 2005, it continued to improve upon these laws by providing an increased focus on access to services for communities of color, immigrant women, and tribal and Native communities (History of VAWA 2009). The final reauthorization of VAWA was in 2013 by President Obama. This will able tribes to exercise their sovereign power to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence both Indians and non-Indians who assault Indian spouses or dating partners or violate a protection order in Indian country (Violence Against Women Act 2015).

III.   Social Policy Analysis

The VAWA 2013 is the most recent reauthorization, and its primary goals of this policy revolves around Indian Tribes. According to the United States Department of Justice, the tribe must protect the rights of defendants under the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. They must also protect the rights of defendants described in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 by providing effective assistance of counsel for defendants, free and appointed licensed attorneys for indigent defendants, law-trained tribal judges who are licensed to practice law, publicly available tribal criminal laws and rules, and recorded criminal proceedings. They must also include a fair cross-section of the community in jury pools and not systematically exclude non-Indians. The last thing the tribe must do is inform defendants ordered detained by a tribal court of their right to file federal habeas corpus petitions (Violence Against Women Act 2015). The crimes that will be covered under this act are domestic violence, dating violence, and criminal violations of protection orders.

In 2013, Congress authorized up to 25 million dollars for tribal grants. Two years later, in 2015 they had still not yet appropriated any of those funds. There is also additional federal funding for the VAWA implementation. The main people that benefit from this reauthorization of 2013 is the Indian Tribes. The VAWA in general benefits mostly women and children because the children usually go with their mothers if they need to leave.

One of the strengths that VAWA has had since it was established is that it is decreasing the amount of domestic violence in the United States. By 2010, the number of women killed by their intimate partner fell 30%, and the annual rate of domestic violence against women fell more than 60% (Kanani 2013). Even after all the success VAWA has brought, there are still more than 2 million adults and 15 million children who are exposed to this violence every year.

IV.   Political Analysis/Evaluation

The supporters of VAWA are Democrats, and the opponents are Republicans. With the newest reauthorization of VAWA, Republicans are in opposition to its reauthorization, largely driven by their disagreement with additional provisions that would accommodate same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants (Kanani 2013). Biden argued that if they didn’t pass this bill it would send an awful message to all the women and daughters out there that they are not entitled to be free of abuse.

I believe this policy so far, works well in addressing the issue of domestic abuse. The number of women being battered has gone down significantly because of this bill. From 1995 (the year after VAWA first passed) to 2010, sexual violence in the US dropped by 64%, according to a report this month from the Justice Department (How VAWA Protects Victims 2013). This number can always improve, but it has done our nation good by having VAWA.

V.   Social Policy Recommendations

I think something that could improve this policy even more is if both parties could agree on it. If they can all see eye to eye on this issue and agree on something, we could be helping a lot more people overcome domestic abuse in the future. It’s difficult for both Democrats and Republicans to agree on issues like this because they each have their own point of view on it. In a perfect world, this could improve VAWA much more because everyone would have the same common goal and is on the same page.

Using Jansson’s Policy Advocacy Steps for this policy, the first step is deciding whether to proceed. I believe we do need to proceed with this policy and continue to make it better in the future. The second step is deciding where to focus. I think this could start to apply for all cultures. It should anyway because VAWA is for all women of every race, religion, etc., but the new reauthorization focused on Indian Tribes. If there is another reauthorization in the future of this policy I can see it being for another culture as well that might need help from the VAWA. The third step is securing attention. If the public is aware that positive changes will be made for women in their culture, they will become more involved and want to hear more. The next step is analyzing and diagnosing the problem. We first need to address what needs to be done or who needs to be helped with the new reauthorization. Once we have found a problem we want to address and solve, we can continue with the next step, which is developing a strategy/ proposal. When we know what we specifically want to be doing, and who for, we can start suggesting ideas on how to get people to support it, which is the next step. For this policy to succeed, we need the support from the people of the country. This involves explaining to them what we plan to develop and what problems we want to solve. The next step is implementing the strategy/policy. Once we have support of the people, we can begin to move forward with putting the policy into place. Hopefully the new policy will be successful in preventing problems within society and personal cultures. The last step is to address the strategy/policy. At this point, the policy will be implemented and in full effect so we can punish those who are in violation of this in the future.

The Violence Against Women Act has come a long way since it was established in 1994, but there is still more we can do to keep improving it and continue to help women and children. The rate of abuse among women in the United States has gone down significantly ever since this policy has been in place, and we can only hope that number keep going down as positive changes continue to happen to VAWA.




Domestic Violence. (2017, June 16). Retrieved December 8, 2017, from

Fernandes- Alcantara, Adrienne L. (2014). Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA): Background and Funding. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved December 9, 2017, from

History of Battered Women’s Movement. (2009, March 25). Retrieved December 9, 2017, from movement/#schec

History of VAWA. (2009). Retrieved December 9, 2017, from

How VAWA Protects Victims. (2013, March 27). Retrieved December 10, 2017, from

Kanani, Rahim. (2013, August 31). Why Do Republicans Oppose Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act? Retrieved December 10, 2017, from reauthorizing-the-violence-against-women-act/#677988584493

Lynch, A. (2017, February 17). Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Retrieved December 9, 2017, from

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization 2013. (2015 March). The United States Department of Justice, 26. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from