Progress Iowa released a report today, detailing the failure of Senator Joni Ernst to protect domestic violence survivors in Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. Ernst’s legislation comes months after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a VAWA reauthorization bill in April.
The report discusses the history of the Violence Against Women Act, as well as the current efforts to reauthorize the legislation, which has lapsed for over a year. After a VAWA reauthorization passed in the U.S. House, the Senate began working on a counterpart. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a version with bipartisan support that closes the so-called boyfriend loophole and includes a number of other provisions backed by advocates and survivors of domestic violence.
Key findings in Progress Iowa’s report include that Ernst’s VAWA reauthorization would allow convicted misdemeanor stalkers to continue gun possession, and it would not prohibit people subject to a temporary domestic violence restraining order from gun possession, and it would adversely impact indigenous women and the LGBTQ community.
“If Senator Ernst continues to refuse to support VAWA as passed by the House and supported by Senators from both sides of the aisle, I can only conclude that she is in denial of the terror these crimes inflict even though she has been subjected to it in her own life,” said State Representative Marti Anderson of Des Moines. “These crimes strike horrific fear in women and children who are targeted. Senator Ernst’s failure to do everything the can to stop this insidious violence gives enormous power and control to abusers — men who say they love the women they abuse and often threaten with death. Senator Ernst must listen to survivors and those who work for their safety. She can distinguish herself by doing all she can to stop violence against women.”
Advocates and domestic violence survivors in Iowa have been speaking out, constituents have attempted to contact Senator Ernst directly for nearly a year to address this issue, but have been unable to speak with her. Ernst’s constituents and every Iowan concerned about domestic violence are encouraged to contact her office and demand that she take appropriate steps to stand up for survivors.