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As the state’s leading voice against intimate partner violence, we are proud to represent the voices and needs of our 22 local crime victim service provider agencies assisting Iowans in all 99 counties. Gender violence is not a single-issue program. We believe ending and preventing violence requires meeting the needs of all victims: investing in and ensuring access to comprehensive services, including multiple options for safety and healing; enhancing economic security, and addressing systemic inequalities creating barriers to well-being for individuals, families and communities.


2021 Legislative Agenda







Invest in Crime Victims - Ensure Access to Rights and Services.

State and federal funds support local agencies that create a path to a better future for crime victims. Federal funds enhance program capacity, but state funds support infrastructure that enables local agencies to provide comprehensive,
lifesaving services. 


  • Invest $6.7 million in state funds for victim services to address significant unmet needs of crime victims; prioritize efforts to eliminate disparities in access to services for traditionally marginalized communities disproportionately harmed by community violence. 

  • Improve Iowa victims’ rights law: amend law to make legal rights enforceable; ensure access to legal services; enforce employment anti-discrimination protections for all crime victims. 

  • Support multiple options for trauma-informed responses to victims and violence: create/support community-informed approaches to safety, victim support, accountability, and healing; improve access to health care, including mental health and substance use services. 


Enhance Economic Security and Safety

Economic insecurity compromises victim safety and undermines the ability to maintain stable housing and employment. Additionally, easy access to guns dramatically increases the lethality risk for victims and children in homes experiencing domestic violence. 

  • Eliminate barriers to accessing/maintaining affordable housing: enact legislation to seal eviction records; ensure proactive enforcement of housing non-discrimination laws to ensure equal access and so victims are not penalized for actions of abusive partners; promote policies to allow lease bi-furcation/early release. 

  • Bolster employment security and financial independence: promote prize-linked savings programs; enact paid leave; increase the minimum wage; expand earned income and child-care tax credits. 

  • Ensure employment non-discrimination: fair chance hiring for returning citizens (ban the box); enhance protections against workplace harassment and violence. 

  • Improve access to health care and safety-net programs: expand Medicaid eligibility; oppose barriers to health/reproductive health care; increase eligibility and amount of nutrition assistance. 

  • Protect individuals and communities from gun violence. 


Promote Equality

Biases and disparities based on race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, criminal background, etc, impact how individuals experience violence and how systems and people meet survivor’s needs. Prioritizing the needs of those carrying the heaviest burden means all survivors will be served. 

  • Uphold federal and state civil rights law to ensure equal access to rights and services: oppose undermining anti-discrimination protections, e.g. religious exemptions or prohibitions reducing access to LGBTQ individuals; homeless shelters excluding victims of domestic violence; etc. 

  • Voting rights: support efforts to enhance civic participation and reduce barriers to voting; approve a constitutional amendment to permanently restore voting rights of Iowans with felony convictions; uphold the integrity of Iowa’s redistricting process. 

  • Ensure equal access across all systems to rights, services, and justice by addressing bias and disparities (racial, gender, LBGTQ, ableism, immigration status): uphold anti-discrimination protections in health access, housing, employment; improve training and policies to ensure victims are not arrested; standardize U visa certification policies for immigrant survivors; support criminal legal and judicial reforms including anti-profiling, bail reform, addressing needs of women in jail/prison, disparities in sentencing. 

To learn more about our legislative efforts, click here to be added to our Legislative Action Alerts, or contact our director of Public Policy, Laura Hessburg, at 515.244.8028.

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:

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 (, Annette Clay, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (, and Terri Harper, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( 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 (


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:

FY22 Department of homeland security appropriations request

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