Impact of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2022
The Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA’s) March 2022 reauthorization contained key updates for educational institutions. The Act — which takes effect Oct. 1, 2022, unless otherwise noted regarding specific provisions — broadens those covered to specifically include underserved and marginalized communities. This includes survivors of sexual violence who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, as well as those in rural and Native American communities. While most requirements of the Act remain focused on higher education, some of the new provisions expand prevention education programs and grants for K-12 and higher education students.
Review the changes in consultation with legal counsel to ensure your applicable policies and practices are updated. Please note the 2022 VAWA reauthorization doesn’t change your institution’s training requirements under the 2013 VAWA reauthorization. You must still comply with these obligations.
This article highlights some of the relevant provisions from the 2022 Act.
New and Expanded Definitions
Definitions of some terms were changed to bring them in line with practical usage. Affected terms include “abuse in later life,” “domestic violence,” “economic abuse,” “legal assistance,” “restorative practice,” and “technological abuse.”
Update your policies to reflect the current definition of these terms.
Expanded Grants for Prevention Education
The Act reauthorizes current VAWA grant programs and increases some of the funding levels. Possible grants include:
- Efforts to develop and disseminate comprehensive education to prevent crimes involving sexual violence including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking
- Creating campus policies, protocols, training, and services that more effectively identify and respond to crimes involving sexual violence; these efforts will be especially relevant to your institution’s Title IX coordinator and campus disciplinary offices
- Training for school-based personnel and campus health centers to meet the needs of young victims of violence
- Training programs for campus administrators, appropriate faculty, health center personnel, health profession students and providers, and other groups, focused on victim-centered, trauma-informed techniques and restorative practices. The Act emphasizes trainings should be inclusive of each person’s experiences, including LGBTQ individuals, and should consider culturally specific experiences of people, specifically including American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Training campus police and other law enforcement to implement a trauma-informed response when investigating sexual assault
- Specific support for historically Black colleges and universities
Sexual Violence Restorative Practices Pilot Program
The Act creates a pilot program to provide grant funding for higher education institutions – among others – to develop and implement restorative practices, which are defined in the Act, for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. These victim-initiated community-based efforts will seek accountability from the person who committed the harm (where there is no pending criminal prosecution or restraining order).
Task Force on Sexual Violence in Education
The Act instructs the Secretaries of Education and Health & Human Services, along with the U.S. Attorney General, to create an interagency Task Force on Sexual Violence to:
- Analyze campus efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault, domestic violence, and dating violence.
- Prepare an annual report to Congress outlining best practices for training and education programs, survivor support, and prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, and dating violence.
- Develop recommendations on sex education, equitable discipline models, and culturally responsive and inclusive approaches to survivor support.
Mandated Campus Climate Survey
Under the Act, the Secretary of Education will develop and implement a campus climate survey tool for colleges and universities receiving federal financial assistance to administer. These institutions must start using the survey no later than one year after the date the survey becomes available and then every two years thereafter.
Examination of Student Loan Issues
The Act also requires the government to prepare a federal report that examines:
- The implications of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking on a borrower’s ability to repay federal student loans
- The adequacy of higher education institutional policies and practices regarding retention or transfer of credits when a survivor suspends or terminates enrollment due to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking
More From UE
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2022 (in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022)
About the Author
Christine McHugh, Esq.
Senior Risk Management Counsel
Christine’s areas of expertise include employment law, sexual assault prevention, protection of minors, traumatic brain injury, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Before joining the Risk Research team, she handled UE liability claims for several years. She previously practiced employment and higher education law.