There is good news, however. Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, in 1994, incidents of violence against women have dramatically decreased. This historic measure increased options for victims and made it possible for many women to leave abusive relationships by providing communities with the tools necessary to develop critical programs to assist and support at-risk women. The bill also improved the criminal justice system's response to violence by training police and prosecutors to respond more effectively. Since VAWA was first passed, domestic violence has decreased by almost 50 percent and incidents of rape have decreased by 60 percent. More than one million women have used the judicial system to obtain domestic violence protective orders.
Recently, I was proud to join with my House colleagues to reauthorize and expand VAWA to ensure that this trend continues. The reauthorized bill will provide new resources at the local level so that communities will be able to provide better support and security to victims of domestic violence.
It establishes grants that can go to state, local, or tribal governments to develop education programs, community-based programs, offender management strategies, or other initiatives to improve court responses in domestic violence cases. It also creates several initiatives intended to help tribes strengthen their response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
As you may know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Throughout this month, I believe it is appropriate to celebrate the progress we have made in assisting law enforcement in domestic violence cases and giving women the supportive services that they need. However, we still have much to do to end the cycle of violence and promote healthy families by preventing abuse and providing victims of domestic violence the support they need.
We must continue to fight for measures that will provide better economic security for victims of violence, increase protections for battered women, promote awareness in underserved populations, enhance protection of victims' personal information and develop programs designed to prevent domestic violence before it occurs.
This October, we renew the fight against domestic violence and abuse in America. Together, we can eliminate domestic violence from homes across the country and ensure that our children grow up in healthy, peaceful communities.