Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) seeks to address the violence women face on campus: highest rates of stalking, highest risk of non-fatal intimate partner violence, and 20-25% of female students experiencing rape or attempted rape.

On October 20, 2014, the United States Department of Education published the final regulations for VAWA. The regulations expand rights afforded to campus survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. This revised legislation creates the following definitions and terms:

    1. Sexual Assault: An offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape as used in the FBI’s UCR program.
    2. Sex Offenses: Any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.
      • Rape- The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
      • Fondling – The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
      • Incest – Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
      • Statutory Rape – Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
    3. Domestic Violence: A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed
      • By a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
      • By a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
      • By a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
      • By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred;
      • By any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.
    4. Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.
      • The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
      • For the purposes of this definition, dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
      • Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
      • Any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting.
    5. Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to
      • Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
      • Suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the purposes of this definition:

      • Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
      • Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
      • Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
      • Any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting.
    1. Programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking: Comprehensive, intentional, and integrated programming, initiatives, strategies, and campaigns intended to end dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking that:
      • Are culturally relevant, inclusive of diverse communities and identities, sustainable, responsive to community needs, and informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness, or outcome; and
      • Consider environmental risk and protective factors as they occur on the individual, relationship, institutional, community, and societal levels
      • Programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking include both primary prevention and awareness programs directed at incoming students and new employees and ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns directed at students and employees.
    2. Awareness programs: Community-wide or audience specific programming, initiatives, and strategies that increase audience knowledge and share information and resources to prevent violence, promote safety, and reduce perpetration
    3. Bystander intervention: Safe and positive options that may be carried out by an individual or individuals to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Bystander intervention includes:

      • Recognizing situations of potential harm

Understanding institutional structures and cultural conditions that facilitate violence, overcoming barriers to intervening, identifying safe and effective intervention options, and taking actions to intervene

    1. Ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns: Programming, initiatives, and strategies that are sustained over time and focus on increasing understanding of topics relevant to and skills for addressing dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, using a range of strategies with audiences throughout the institution

Primary prevention programs: Programming, initiatives, and strategies informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness, or outcome that are intended to stop dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking before they occur through the promotion of positive and healthy behaviors that foster healthy, mutually respectful relationships and sexuality, encourage safe bystander intervention, and seek to change behavior and social norms in healthy and safe direction.

  1. Risk reduction: Options designed to decrease perpetration and bystander inaction, and to increase empowerment for victims in order to promote safety and to help individuals and communities address conditions that facilitate violence.
  2. Prompt, fair, and impartial proceeding: A proceeding that is completed within reasonably prompt timeframes designated by an institution’s policy, including a process that allows for the extension of timeframes for good cause and with written notice to the accuser and the accused of the delay and the reason for the delay;
      Conducted in a manner that:

    • Is consistent with the institution’s policies and transparent to the accuser and accused;
    • Includes timely notice of meetings at which the accuser or accused, or both, may be present; and
    • Provides timely and equal access to the accuser, the accused, and appropriate officials to any information that will be used during informal and formal disciplinary meetings and hearings; and
    • Conducted by officials who do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the accuser or the accused
  3. Advisor: Any individual who provides the accuser or accused support, guidance, or advice
  4. Proceeding: All activities related to a non-criminal resolution of an institutional disciplinary complaint, including, but not limited to, fact finding investigations, formal or informal meetings, and hearings. Proceeding does not include communications and meetings between officials and victims concerning accommodations or protective measures to be provided to a victim.
  5. Result: Any initial, interim, and final decision by any official or entity authorized to resolve disciplinary matters within the institution The result must include any sanctions imposed by the institution.