IGNORED by VAWA/OVW
By Robert Leclair
Dr. Christina Villegas, and numerous female writers have voiced their opposition to VAWA and OVW as written and implemented in the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA by Congress. Their voices
have fallen on deaf ears and completely ignored by the Office of Violence Against Women. Why? Because OVW gets billions of tax dollars and can afford to weather any storm or meaningful
criticism. The slogan itself “Violence Against Women ACT” is a goal worthy of pursuit and not a source of contention. However, ways to achieve the goal has been highly contested and the
approach and implementation of policies and procedures by OVW have been a source of significant concern. Those who have offered constructive criticism have been totally ignored. It is no
surprise to those who voice concern that OVW has falsely stated that its achievements have been extraordinarily successful in eliminating domestic violence and protecting women and children.
The criticism that VAWA’s approach was seriously flawed and that it failed to protect women and children apparently has been silenced. Why? Because OVW’s funding has been so extensive and
political clout so vast that any opposition is easily silenced.
The 2019 VAWA reauthorization has been seriously delayed, providing additional time for concerned critics to muster greater support for total reform of the ACT and OVW. If congress voted on
reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act before the election it would pass with all its flaws, its failed approach to protect women and its extensive collateral damage to children. How OVW’s
reports to congress can state that it has reduced domestic violence by 64% or 68% is not only unbelievable but ludicrous. Fortunately, there is still time to reveal the evidence needed for systemic
reform that will protect women, children, and men.
Dr. Linda Mills is another dedicated voice whose books attempt to portray the root cause of domestic violence and possible solutions. I have never seen OVW recommend any book or study other
than from their own sources. Apparently, Dr. Mills’ rationale does not fit OVW’s false ideology and narrative. Dr. Mills’ book “insult to injury” provides a unique and new approach when considering
the dynamics of domestic violence. Mills offers refreshing new ideas and innovative approaches differing from the failed approaches used by VAWA/OVW for the past two decades. Here is a link
to an excellent evaluation http://22.214.171.124/kathleen-parker/politically-incorrect-domestic-violence?source=columnist of Dr. Mills book. This evaluation will confirm much of the story behind the
façade of OVW’s misguided approach to domestic violence and the protection of children.
Dr. Christina Villegas has written many articles showing how VAWA is fundamentally flawed. I believe she is in the process of writing a book on the subject. Her book would be of immense value to
our society and would precipitate total reform of VAWA/OVW. I have read all her articles and writings and found that her qualifications and knowledge are exceptional. I believe you would agree
after reading the two articles included herein. The second article was well-founded constructive criticism aimed at improving the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA. Again, most of opposing comments
were squelched by the proponents. I guess we will wait for the 2020 reauthorization debate, if allowed.
ARTICLES BY Dr. Christina Villegas
Does VAWA Foster Class Victimization Among Women?
Women Against VAWA
One of the cornerstones of a free society is the right of individuals, male and female, to be free from attacks on their person and property. Thus, protecting victims of violent crime is certainly a
noble goal and a primary duty of government. The Violence Against Women Act, however, has inadequately discharged this objective.
Although the stated intention of the VAWA was to correct the ill administration of justice and provide more equitable protection to female victims, in actuality, the act has promoted a biased
response to violence which ignores realities necessary to combat domestic and sexual violence effectively.
The VAWA’s flaws largely result from its ideological roots. From its inception, the VAWA has been based on an understanding of violence that grew out of radical feminism and its manifestations in
the anti-rape and battered women’s movements.
A common mantra of radical feminism was the idea that, before women could throw off the shackles imposed on them by the family and capitalism, they would first need to identify themselves as an
oppressed class. In other words, just as Marx believed that members of the proletariat would not revolt until they became conscious of themselves as a class, so also radical feminists believed that
the feminist revolution could only occur when women came to terms with their oppression.
One of the methods of getting women to identify themselves as an oppressed class was to perpetuate the idea that violence against women is systemic and is caused by institutionalized sexism.
This belief that violence against women is simply a result of patriarchy has been successfully incorporated into the design and implementation of the VAWA.
In order to justify the massive redistribution of legal and economic resources to women that has taken place under the VAWA, advocates have virtually ignored the well-documented prevalence of
domestic violence cases in which men are victims or in which members of the same sex are violent towards one another.
Despite growing evidence that violence affects victims from all classes and sectors of society and that the causes of violence are complex, many within the abuse industry continue to perpetuate
this notion of class victimization and use demagoguery to silence their opponents.
Now that the VAWA is up for its third reauthorization, this mentality of class victimization is being used to pressure lawmakers into blindly supporting the law without any substantive consideration of
its flaws or the negative consequences that might be involved in its expansion.
In an attempt to attract female voters, members of Congress have stalled negotiations over the reauthorization, and as Democrats seek to capitalize on the claim that Republicans are waging a war
against women — action before the November election may be unlikely.
Despite the impasse in Congress, however, a recent survey conducted by the Washington based anti-domestic violence organization Stop Abusive and Violent Environments suggests that there is
common ground for reforming the VAWA among the electorate. In a national telephone survey of registered voters, solid majorities of those responding — including a majority of those who have
been victims of domestic violence — supported reforming the VAWA to stop waste and fraud, to prevent discrimination in favor of certain victim classes, and to curb false allegations.
In order to effectively combat domestic and sexual violence, Congress should look past the ideological roots of the VAWA and should consider alternatives that address the true causes of violence
and seek to provide equal protection to all victims. While reform will likely be far from perfect, provisions designed to strengthen accountability, protect all victims, and reduce fraud and false
accusations provide a good starting point for effectively and efficiently responding to violence and are more in conformity with public sentiment.
VAWA’s Substantive Flaws Deserve a Fair Hearing
Christina Villegas | Huffington Post | February 20, 2013
As the House of Representatives prepares to consider the Senate passed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), members are facing intense pressure to quickly pass the law with little attention to
its relative merits or flaws.
In fact, it is unfortunately common for proponents of VAWA to encourage blind support of the law by unjustly maligning the motives of their opponents and promptly dismissing substantive
For example, last week on CSPAN's Washington Journal, Kim Gandy, former President of the National Organization for Women and current president and CEO of the National Network to End
Domestic Violence, bemoaned the lack of unanimous support for VAWA and then generalized opposition to the law as an antagonism towards LGBT, immigrant, and Native American victims.
The host responded by reading a summary of my objections to VAWA, which highlighted the law's propensity for waste, fraud, and abuse, its ineffectiveness in addressing many of the proven
causes of violence, and its promotion of criminal justice policies that often harm the victims it was intended to help. Ms. Gandy immediately replied, "She obviously doesn't offer anything to
back that up."
Ms. Gandy must have misspoken, since I have written extensively about the evidence of failures in VAWA. I appreciate that Ms. Gandy shares my desire to promote policies that are beneficial for
women. However, in my critical review of VAWA, I have found several flaws that deserve a fair hearing. To dismiss these claims as though they have no substantive foundation is harmful to victims
and to the deliberative process.
As I have explained elsewhere, VAWA programs primarily allocate funding based on the idea that women are disproportionately the victims of domestic violence and that violence against women is
perpetuated by men's desire for power and control. This foundation overlooks a great deal of social science research and evidence from clinical practice showing that men and homosexuals are
frequently victims of domestic violence and that the causes of such violence are numerous and complex.
Furthermore, the GAO and the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General have found that VAWA programs have not been adequately assessed and that a significant amount of the funding
allocated by act has not been spent on servicing victims. Proponents have rejected accountability measures proposed by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) to address these flaws.
VAWA also contains several grant programs that duplicate one another or overlap with grant programs provided by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Senator Coburn (R-OK) proposed an amendment to consolidate duplicative programs and to use much of the $600 million in savings to eliminate the enormous backlogs of rape kit evidence.
These rape kits — which include physical and medical evidence that allows police to identify and prosecute offenders — often go untested in cash-strapped localities. Although this amendment
would clearly benefit female victims, VAWA sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) urged his colleagues to reject the measure and the amendment failed.
The reticence of many VAWA advocates to adopt adequate safeguards against waste and fraud is compounded by their unbending support for new additions to the act. For example, supporters of
the Senate-passed reauthorization have been unwilling to compromise on the provision expanding tribal court jurisdiction over non-Indians accused of sexual assault and domestic violence on
Indian lands. Proponents have even gone so far as to accuse their opponents of believing Native American women are not human enough to warrant protection.
Such accusations are outrageous and ignore the substantive problems with this provision. While it is true that Native American Women face extremely high rates of domestic and sexual abuse, the
transfer of jurisdiction may not effectively respond to the problem. As one author points out, tribal governments have a history of inadequately handling sexual assault cases and protecting the
constitutional rights of the accused. Proponents of the tribal provision and the media have completely ignored alternative solutions to the problem of violence on native lands, such as those passed
by the House last year.
The representative process is designed to be deliberative in nature. Sadly, too often in today's political climate, powerful interests attempt to suppress such discussion by demonizing the other side.
That's exactly what is being done to voices challenging VAWA orthodoxy. The American people deserve better. Before renewing this politically attractive law, representatives should consider
alternative solutions and give a fair hearing to those with substantive concerns.