Special thank you to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for meeting with staff from Safe Harbor, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Tahirih Justice Center, Casa de Esperanza, National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Advocates discussed the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The Violence Against Women Act is currently up for re-authorization. This landmark piece of legislation has significantly supported the efforts of professional organizations serving those impacted by sexual and domestic violence including law enforcement, prosecutors, and sexual and domestic violence programs.

Fruitful conversation about traditionally under-served groups who benefit significantly from VAWA’s provisions occurred during the meeting. Safe Harbor’s Vanessa Durrant shared how VAWA helps advocates better serve the immigrant community based on her experiences supporting survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Here are Vanessa’s thoughts on the meeting:

“The meeting with Congressman Cantor was an important one. He learned about Safe Harbor, and the outstanding work we do in Henrico County and neighboring jurisdictions.   I was able to share with him a specific story of a survivor I worked with, the heartbreaking things that happened to her, and how VAWA was able to be a lifeline for her and her family.  Not only does VAWA protect women against violence, it also acts as a tool for law enforcement in charging those using violence.  In this meeting, Congressman Cantor was able to see that this issue happens everywhere, including with the constituents he represents.  We also expressed our thoughts regarding how the reauthorization of VAWA needs to be a bi-partisan issue.  When it comes to the safety of our residents, political polarity is detrimental to the wellbeing of our communities.”