Legislative Action

Rooted in inequality, domestic violence is perpetuated by social norms and systems that generate oppression and normalize violence. We cannot arrest or litigate our way out of this problem. We must change the attitudes and behaviors that sustain it. Ending, preventing, and supporting survivors of violence requires that we invest in comprehensive services and prioritize policies that enhance economic security and advance equality.





2019 Legislative Agenda


  • Invest in victims - Ensure access to comprehensive services that provide safety and healing. State and federal funds support local agencies that increase safety and create a path to a better future for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Federal funds enhance program capacity, but state funds support the infrastructure that enables victim service agencies to provide comprehensive, lifesaving services in every Iowa county. In addition to offering emergency support, these providers help victims obtain housing, jobs, and access to services, education, and long-term safety. Last year, Iowa’s 21 domestic and sexual violence agencies helped 57,801 people harmed by violence. Support $6.7 million in state funds for victim services; standardize U visa certification to ensure immigrant survivors can access current law protections; ensure victims are not prosecuted for violating their own protective orders.


  • Enhance Economic Security & Safety. Financial abuse is a tactic used by virtually all coercive partners and deeply diminishes a survivor’s ability to stay safe or maintain stable housing and employment. Additionally, in homes experiencing domestic violence guns dramatically increase the risk of lethality for victims, family members, and law enforcement. Support policies that eliminate barriers to financial independence, help victims rebuild their lives, and reduce gun violence. Support livable wages, paid sick leave, workplace non-discrimination policies (e.g. people leaving prison, pregnancy, gender), as well as housing and employment policies to ensure victims are not penalized for the actions of partners causing harm; enhance protections against gun violence; oppose policies that undermine access to economic support and safety net programs.


  • Promote Equality and Social Justice. Domestic violence is not a single-issue problem. Changing the behaviors and attitudes allowing it to thrive cannot occur by addressing only one form of inequality or relying exclusively on criminal legal interventions. Biases based on race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, criminal background, health status, to name a few, impact how individuals experience violence and how systems and people meet the needs of survivors.  Prioritizing the needs of those carrying the heaviest burden of disparity, means all survivors will be served. Support policies to address disparities and systemic discrimination (e.g. implicit bias, racial profiling; cjs reform; equitable access to services, education, opportunity); to restore felony voting rights; to protect/advance civil rights and access to essential health care; oppose attacks on civil rights and reproductive freedom (e.g. anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive health access) and social or criminal legal interventions that perpetuate racially/ethnically disparate impacts and unequal treatment.

National Legislature

We work with coalitions from all 50 states and the National Network to End Domestic Violence to support legislative change and federal funding for domestic violence services.


Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA)

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act is the single largest funding source for emergency services for domestic violence victims and their children. FVPSA is administered from within the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the US Department of Health and Human Services, and FVPSA funds life-saving emergency shelters, crisis lines, counseling, and victim assistance. For more information please visit:


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Public Policy Office

The National Network to End Domestic Violence

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

VAWA was first passed in 1994 and created the first U.S. Federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes. In 2006, VAWA of 2005 was signed into law by former U.S. President George W. Bush. VAWA reauthorizes existing programs to combat domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, and creates new programs to meet the emerging needs of communities working to prevent violence.The Violence Against Women Act will be up for reauthorization in 2011. The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is maintaining a VAWA Prevention Group ListServe that is focused on providing feedback to the VAWA 2011 Prevention Team. The Team is comprised of Kiersten Stewart, Family Violence Prevention Fund (kiersten@endabuse.org), Annette Clay, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (aclay@taasa.org), and Terri Harper, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (tharper@ncadv.org). Other organizations leading efforts to reauthorize other prevention-related elements of VAWA include the NNEDV and Break the Cycle. Sally Schaeffer from Family Violence Prevention Fund may be contacted regarding VAWA Health and VAWA Children and Youth (sally@endabuse.org).


Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)

Enacted by President Reagan in 1984, the Victims of Crime Act created the Crime Victims Fund as a non-taxpayer funding resource for services that help crime victims cope with the trauma and aftermath of the crime. VOCA funds consists of fines and penalties collected from federal offenders--not taxpayer dollars--which are distributed to states to support two types of programs: crime victim compensation programs and victim assistance programs. For more information on VOCA, please visit the following websites:

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