AUCD Applauds VAWA Reauthorization

February 28, 2013

SILVER SPRING, MD - The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) applauds the U.S. Congress for putting partisan politics aside and passing the Violence Against Women's Reauthorization Act. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 286-138 today to pass a bipartisan Senate version of a bill (S.47) renewing the Violence Against Women Act. The measure now heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.

The law includes a disability grant program that addresses the gaps in abuse suffered by victims with disabilities that experience domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and incidences of stalking. The bill also strengthens this program by adding the use of evidence-based indicators to assess the risk of domestic and dating violence homicide.

"It is so encouraging to see Democrats and Republicans work across the aisle to reauthorize this important legislation that will help to protect and safeguard women, including those who live with a disability, throughout our country," stated Julie Fodor, PhD, Director of the Center on Disabilities and Human Development (Idaho's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) and President of AUCD. "Hopefully this bill can serve as a precedent for Congress to continue working together to address other real and immediate fiscal and social challenges that face our country."

According to research, women with disabilities tend to suffer from additional types of abuse, for longer durations, and at the hands of a greater number of perpetrators. For example, Valenti-Hein and Schwartz (1995) indicated that an alarming 90% of people with developmental disabilities will be victimized by sexual violence at some point during their lifetime. Forty percent will experience ten or more incidents. Sobsey (1994) estimated that each year in the U.S., 15,000 to 19,000 people with developmental disabilities are raped. In a study of adult women with disabilities, 62% were victims of sexual violence and differed from women without disabilities in that they were victimized by a greater number of perpetrators and experienced a significantly longer duration of violence. Furthermore, the violence was more likely perpetrated by attendants and health providers (Nosek et al., 1997).

The bill also updates the anti-discrimination provision for VAWA grantees by creating uniformity. Under the new bill, grantees may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. The bill also extends protections to Native American women.

Originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized since, the law aims to reduce domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as to help victims of those crimes. It operates primarily through awarding federal grants to state and local authorities, nonprofit organizations, and universities. The Violence Against Women Act is credited with helping reduce domestic violence incidents by two-thirds over the past two decades.


The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), located in Silver Spring, MD, promotes and supports a national network of interdisciplinary centers on disabilities. The members of AUCD represent every U.S. state and territory. AUCD and its members work to advance policy and practice through research, education, leadership, and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities. For more information, visit AUCD's website: