Criticisms of VAWA

A number of leading organizations have criticized the Violence Against Women Act:

  1. Beverly LaHaye Institute: “women can routinely claim nebulous ‘psychological harm’ and keep a man out of his home, away from his children, possibly losing his job and ruining his reputation.”
  2. Concerned Women for America: VAWA “is, in large part, a rigid series of ineffective law enforcement programs.”
  3. Eagle Forum: VAWA “has done little or no good for real victims of domestic violence, while its funds have been used to fill feminist coffers and to lobby for feminist objectives and laws.”
  4. Everyday Feminism: “In many cases, a retributive process doesn’t do anything to address the underlying causes of violent and abusive behavior.”
  5. FreedomWorks: “The newest version of the VAWA, S. 47, contains very vague and broad definitions of domestic violence.”
  6. Family Research Council: VAWA represents an “abuse of taxpayer dollars” that “does more to promote a radical agenda than it does to help women.”
  7. Heritage Foundation: VAWA “includes radical changes that greatly alter the original purpose of the law, already problematic in its own right.”
  8. Independent Women’s Forum: VAWA “overlooks many of the proven causes of violence (such as substance abuse), and has been a source of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer resources.”
  9. National Parents Organization: “Our societal double standard on male and female-perpetrated domestic violence is fairly screaming to be examined, but no one wants to.”
  10. Ms. Foundation for Women: “Unfortunately, when state power has been invited into, or forced into, the lives of individuals, it often takes over.”
  11. National Research Council: Domestic violence treatment programs are often “driven by ideology and stakeholder interests rather than plausible theories and scientific evidence of fact.”
  12. Victims of Immigration Fraud: “Some provisions of the Violence Against Women Act are being used by foreign national spouses to bypass the immigration laws of the United States.”

Leading researchers and commentators also have been critical:

  1. Sarah Deer: “And when tribal governments receive VAWA funding, they feel compelled to replicate the state or federal justice system. I’ve seen situations where tribes have been discouraged from reinvigorating a traditional response to violence that would involve the community and the women themselves rather than the tribal court.”
  2. Martin Fiebert: “221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses… demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.  The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.”
  3. Linda Kelly: “Yet, despite the critical importance of first acknowledging and then eradicating the male abuse of women, an equally important but untold story remains. Women can be batterers. Men can be victims.”
  4. Wendy McElroy: “Years ago I was beaten so badly by a ‘partner’ that my right eye hemorrhaged in the line of vision and I have been legally blind in the eye ever since…The DV attitudes in VAWA were a large part of why it took me so long to heal. As long as I bought into suspicion and rage toward all men, I could not make sense of my own reality. Only when I realized one man was responsible and other men would have come to my aid did I grasp the beating as a personal, not a political experience.”
  5. Beth Richie: “Since the anti-violence movement was operating in the context of a larger movement towards criminalization, it was easy to adopt the solutions of arrest, detention and surveillance. This has been very problematic in terms of the number of women who experience violence and are subsequently arrested.”
  6. Murray Strauss: “Researchers who have an ideological commitment to the idea that men are almost always the sole perpetrator often conceal evidence that contradicts this belief…Thus, many researchers have published only the data on male perpetrators or female victims, deliberately omitting data on female perpetrators and male victims.”
  7. Cathy Young: “VAWA-funded training for police and prosecutors encourages the presumption that the man is always the sole or primary aggressor in domestic violence cases. Among past recipients of federal grants for such training are psychologists Dee Graham and Edna Rawlings of the University of Cincinnati, authors of a 1994 book, Loving to Survive, which argues that women’s relationships with men are akin to the “Stockholm syndrome” in which hostages bond with their terrorist captors.”