Lobbying 101: Violence Against Women Act Funding

US Capitol

Senator Joe Biden sponsored the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Many women and children ~ some men too ~ are finding there isn’t much justice in our legal system.  In fact, the legal system is easily manipulated as an instrument of abuse.

We’re in dire need of judicial reform.  A post on the Women’s Law Project blog reports on how a judge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin invalidated a voter-approved paid leave for victims of domestic violence:

Domestic violence constitutes just as much of a threat to the health and safety of all its victims as a serious illness does. To ignore, diminish, or brush aside this fact is an insult to every woman who lives in justified fear of what her husband might do next. When a woman knows that she needs to seek shelter, or go to court, in order to prevent her abuser from harming her or her children, she should not have to gamble her job against her life. There is absolutely no reason she should not be allowed to use a paid sick day in such a situation.  [emphasis added]

A Mom’s Random Mind who writes about two guys who went to court.  One guy got jailed for a speeding ticket.  The other guy walked away from domestic violence charges because there weren’t enough judges to hear his case.  She wants to know why we aren’t raising more hell.

After you get angry, I hope you’ll take action.  How?

Senator Biden is now our Vice President.  This means we have a powerful ally in Washington, D.C.

Change happens when vocal lobbyists and concerned citizens band together to demand VAWA funding.  When you look at the list of available grants, you will see  a list of various groups who lobbied for and got funding for projects important to them.  VAWA funding is allocated by the US Department of Justice’s VAW office.  You can read about the effectiveness of their programs in their Report to Congress.

STOP Grants are available to prosecutors and courts.  Each state gets $600,000 in funding to implement the current priorities:

The emphasis of the STOP Program continues to be the implementation of comprehensive strategies to address violence against women that prioritize the needs and safety of victims and hold offenders accountable for their crimes. States and territories should seek to carry out these strategies by forging lasting partnerships between advocates, other victim service providers, and the criminal justice system.

They should also encourage communities to expand traditional resources and partners and respond more vigorously to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes.

States are encouraged to develop and support projects that:

  • Prioritize support for programs that address sexual assault and stalking, including the development and implementation of protocols; training for judges, other court personnel, prosecutors, and law enforcement; and the development of coordinated community responses to violence against women.
  • Enhance or strengthen Statewide collaboration efforts among law enforcement, prosecution, nonprofit, nongovernmental victim advocacy and service providers, and the courts in addressing violence against women.
  • Implement community-driven initiatives, utilizing faith-based and community organizations, to address the needs of underserved populations as defined by VAWA, including people with disabilities and elder victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

If the courts in your jurisdiction remain clueless about domestic violence, you can ask your local officials and newspaper editors why judges and prosecutors haven’t been trained.  You can also lobby for changes in the STOP grants’ priorities.  And, you can lobby for new areas of funding.

This is how change happens.

6 responses to “Lobbying 101: Violence Against Women Act Funding

  1. Pingback: “Creaming:” Why Many DV Victims Don’t Get Help « Anne Caroline Drake·

  2. I have a friend by the name of Coral Theill that has the been the victim of what you call a “pitbull”. She has been failed by the court system repeatedly. She lost her 8 children to her abusive husband who still has a lien on her. Even though she had no outside job (his demands) or money. The court system of Oregon found in favor of her abusive husband. She needs help but no one seems to be there for her. Where can she turn and to whom for help to gain her emancipation and life back without her ex husband having control of her life after all these years?

  3. Pam,

    Thank you for caring enough about your friend Coral to leave a comment here. She’s extraordinarily lucky to have you in her corner.

    The judicial corruption in OR isn’t your imagination. It is rampant. The OR State Bar has always had a deaf ear when it comes to litigation abuse and domestic violence. And, the press allows the corruption to continue. The DV system is horridly ineffective.

    That’s the bad news. The good news is that this means she’s got a lot of similarly situated sisters who are looking for someone to lead the charge. Is that person you, Pam? Pour a couple of glasses of wine in a room full of women, start talking about Coral, and you’ll be shocked at what those women reveal.

    In fact, this is why Bob Packwood’s no longer a senator. A bunch of women were sitting around drinking wine and talking about Anita Hill. Pretty soon one of them admitted Bob Packwood had stuck his tongue down her throat. One-by-one, the women discovered it had happened to EVERY woman at that table. Each had been too embarrassed to speak up. They took him DOWN politically.

    You know, it doesn’t cost a dime to start a WordPress blog. And, you can probably get paid to be the OR domestic violence “examiner” by Examiner.com. I think their writers get something like a penny per reader/article. This blog has been operating for exactly six months today. I’m astounded at the connections I’ve made and what we’ve accomplished together. . .we got an investigative journalism article in the August issue of O Magazine!!! You have to know Oprah to appreciate the minor miracle that entailed.

    My first thought for Coral is that emancipation is an attitude. We can choose to be victims of our circumstances, or we can take control of the situation to the best of our ability. Litigation abuse is an experience. . .a lousy experience. . .we don’t become victims of it unless we think of ourselves as victims. It’s the thinking of ourselves as victims that allows the abuser to retain control and the system to remain corrupt.

    My hunch is that you are writing on Coral’s behalf because she is absolutely devastated by all the betrayals. What she needs most right now is what I call a protection circle. . .and maybe one of your puppies.

    My next suggestion would be to gather together a huge stack of magazines. Have a party. Make Coral the queen for the evening. Go through those magazines looking for images and words that describe her dreams for herself. Make a collage on a notebook that can become her journal. Encourage her to use that journal to write about her dreams and frustrations and how she can regain the feeling of being in control of her life. As she writes and reflects, a viable solution will emerge from her scribbling.

    And, reading The First Wives’ Club or Fern Michaels’ Sisterhood series just might be the ticket ~ the revenge fantasies certainly got me through some dark nights of the soul. Pat Conroy’s comment about special talents rolls around in my head always.

    Another suggestion would be for her protection circle to do the Artist’s Way journey. It is very, very healing and empowering.

    Along the way, she might want to read Barbara Bentley’s wonderful book Dance with the Devil. I think it might inspire her and give her some ideas. Barbara responds to her e-mail messages. She got herself a $10,000 no-strings grant for her work + a very nice book contract + her story was featured on Dateline. She was on BlogRadio telling her story this week. I’ll be posting the link shortly.

    Finally, I would encourage Coral to take advantage of the resources available on this website and elsewhere on the web. In particular, look at my “Bravo, Bloggers!” post because that’s where I wrote about other bloggers who are doing amazing stuff ~ I think one has a survivor’s forum. I’ve recently reorganized this site to (hopefully) make it more user-friendly. The Surive, Thrive, Joy page has pages nested in it with annotations to my posts that might help her.

    Iyanla Vanzant’s books helped me tremendously when I was where Coral is now.

    Although I don’t have the resources to help people one-to-one, I am writing for people like Coral. So, if y’all have a question, I’ll try to answer it as best I can. Leave a comment, and I’ll reflect on it and write a post that is (hopefully) helpful to Coral and others walking in her shoes. We could perhaps start a series of posts dedicated to her.

    Down the road, there are several political avenues you can take. If you, Pam, are in the mood to get politically active, my top suggestion would be to contact Oregon Women Lawyers (OWL). I don’t know if they are still active in the judicial selection process, but they kicked some serious behind in 1992. If you get very, very lucky and they are still feisty and brilliant, Coral just might find someone in this group to take on her case pro bono. You’ll need yourselves a miracle on this score so start praying.

    The second thing you can do is to contact your local US representative and senators to challenge VAW funding for agencies that failed to help Coral. This will work best if you can get a group together and stare them down. Congress is in recess now. Remember that you have a staunch ally in VP Biden. I’ve heard the Obama Administration has been quite helpful to individuals.

    At this point, I absolutely don’t think Coral should be lobbying. She’s likely too fragile and needs someone else to take the lead. But, she probably has a powerful voice right now that could melt steel. You’d be surprised how effectively that can shake up a room full of politicians. This is part of the reason I suggested Barbara Bentley’s book. She became a lobbyist and changed the divorce laws in CA. She too got left with a mountain of debt courtesy of her ex-husband. She was fortunate, however, in that she had an established career. Makes a huge difference.

    In closing, take a look at what Vernetta Cockerham pulled off! She brought them to their knees in NC and had her story written up in O Magazine. She spent a very long time in the valley, but she prevailed in the end. Write to Oprah and ask her producers to do a show on litigation abuse. This works best if she gets a pile of e-mail messages on the same day on the same issue. Vernetta’s story is very similar to Coral’s. And, Oprah knows all about the judicial corruption in OR.

    Change happens when one of us gets stomped on and ticked off enough to shout “enough already!” Please give Coral some hugs from me. I’ve been exactly where she is, but I didn’t have a protection circle. Not fun. I hope this is helpful. Thanks for leaving a comment and caring about Coral.


  4. I put my life on the line to try to help this woman. I wrote three posts about her story. She wanted help promoting her book. I obliged. She wanted to get her story out there. I obliged.

    After Mother’s Day, 2010, the former chief justice of the OR supreme court made a comment about the injustices she had experienced and was quite vocal in his disdain for the judge in her case.

    I urged her to seize the opportunity to finally get justice in her case.

    That’s when I discovered she didn’t really want justice. She relished the attention she was getting playing the “poor me” victim. It had become more important to her than her desire to reunite with her kids.

    She sent me an e-mail informing me that she had published my private messages to her (which include my confidential location) with people who routinely cross paths with the judge who has been stalking me since 1992.

    This is the second time I’ve been stabbed in the back by a DV survivor who claimed to want justice but actually wanted a place in the spotlight.

    At her request, I have removed the posts she asked me to write about her. I also removed all the comments made about her except these. I want the record to reflect that someone asked me to help her. . .I did and paid a heavy price. No more. No more.

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