Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.” 

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was last reauthorized in 2022. VAWA must be reauthorized every five years and this latest version included a new twist—the word “women” was struck out and replaced with “individuals.” 

Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

A. VAWA was first enacted with bipartisan support in 1994 to prevent violent crime, particularly violence against women.
B. Since VAWA’s enactment, there have been numerous reports of waste, fraud, and abuse.
C. VAWA prioritizes women’s safety and recognizes differences in male and female biology.

Let’s take these statements one at a time:

A. TRUTH! VAWA was passed and signed into federal law in 1994 with bipartisan support to help victims of violence, including domestic and sexual violence, and to prevent future abuse. Since then, VAWA has been reauthorized by Congress four times (2000, 2005, 2013, and 2022).

B. TRUTH! Reports from the Department of Justice Inspector General have shown the misuse and abuse of funds within VAWA.

For example, a Department of Justice audit reviewed 22 randomly selected VAWA grants from 1998 to 2010. Of the 22 grantees, 21 were found to have violated the terms of their grants.

The Department of Justice has also found several instances of fraud and embezzlement.

Ultimately, this means that VAWA’s funds are not always spent on assisting victims of violence, leaving some without access to the services they need.

C. LIE! Unfortunately, the latest version of VAWA removed the word “women” from the text and replaced it with “individuals.” Not only that, the bill included a provision that explicitly prohibits single-sex domestic violence shelters and other facilities serving vulnerable women from denying access to biological men who identify as women, despite clear issues in places where that is already the policy. This is extremely concerning, especially given that women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and stalking. Is the Violence Against Women Act looking out for women?

Bottom line:

Congress enacted VAWA 28 years ago with laudable intentions: To prevent and respond to the crimes of violence against women. VAWA shouldn’t be a political issue; we all want to eliminate violence against women. If policymakers are serious about helping women, they should reauthorize a better Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and stop putting progressive political concerns ahead of women’s security and safety.