One more reason to reauthorize VAWA: Stalking victims

There are only a few more days left to renew VAWA (The Violence Against Women Act). The bill has been left in limbo due to a proposed change to include Native Americans, LGBT, and undocumented immigrants in the protections. There is a provision in VAWA that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention or mainstream coverage, it extends protections for individuals that are being stalked.

Without VAWA, most states won’t recognize a protective order from another state. As it currently stands, attempting to cross state lines safely, and doing so in a way that will allow a protective order to be used if something occurs outside of the jurisdiction of the original order, is a complicated process. The laws vary so greatly from state to state that what may “protect” a person in TN won’t protect a person in SD unless an ‘out of state’ registration is applied for. When applying for an out of state recognition, there are states that will contact the person the protective order is against. For victims trying to “disappear” or get to a safe place outside of the state the order was written, complying with the laws correctly can put them in danger.

The protections provided under VAWA for stalking victims in general are frustrating at the least, but without it, it forces victims to make yet another difficult choice: “stay” where their protective order will be recognized, or risk the danger of leaving that jurisdiction. With all the things stalking victims already have to deal with, piling on an expiration of the shield VAWA gives is the last thing they need.

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