The Violence Against Women act to expire at the end of the month - FOX34 Lubbock

The Violence Against Women act to expire at the end of the month

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violence Against Women act to help protect victims of domestic violence. Since then, It has been reauthorized several times, most recently under the Obama Administration in 2013.

However, the expiration date is approaching and the bill has not reached Congress yet. 

Despite the name, Attorney Paul Friener with Legal Aid of Northwest Texas said this law provides support for all victims of domestic violence.

"It goes beyond just helping the specific person," Friener said. "It provides training to law enforcement, assisting people, assisting law enforcement officers with those situations."

It also directly affects Friener's organization, which provides free civil legal services to 114 Texas counties throughout North and West Texas. 

"The funds that VAWA provides that's allocated each time it's reauthorized would not be able to assist people in navigating the court system,helping people with protective orders, and escape their abusers in domestic violence situations," Friener said. 

That is where Women's Protective Services steps in. Community Education Coordinator Steven Garcia said domestic violence is a growing problem in our state. 

"Just about each year in Texas, the number of woman killed by their partner goes up," Garcia said. "In 2017, that number was 146."

He said resources for victims, like shelter and legal help have improved. He attributes part of that to the funding from VAWA. 

"My passion lies in trying to educate everyone," Garcia said. "This is something we can not quite totally eradicate, but we can really bring those numbers down and really teach people that there's healthy alternatives."

Friener believes it is truly an issue that both sides of the aisle want to continue addressing.

"The Violence Against Women Act is an extremely important act for so many people, and it touches so many people's lives because of the services and resources it provides," Friener said. 

VAWA will expire on September 30th. House lawmakers anticipate passing a three month extension next week but both Republicans and Democrats are pushing for a long-term solution. 

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