May 30, 2023 – This week, the Justice Department highlighted a series of initiatives aimed at preventing and addressing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV). With its strong, longstanding commitment to upholding justice and pursuing equality for all, the Justice Department joins its partners across the federal government and communities nationwide to prioritize the safety of all survivors of GBV and lauds the White House’s recent release of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action.
“Gender-based violence violates fundamental human rights, destroys communities, and fosters social inequities,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Identifying and preventing these crimes is a top department priority, underscored by this first-ever national plan and the government’s collective commitment to this cause. The Justice Department, with our federal partners, will continue to spotlight the repercussions of these crimes on society and applauds those who support survivors in restoring their sense of safety and well-being.”
GBV affects individuals from all walks of life and spans all ages, representing a significant public safety crisis. It pervades every sphere of human interaction, be it public or private. In our ever-connected world, this form of violence impacts communities nationwide and can often escalate under disaster, conflict or crisis conditions, including global health emergencies such as a pandemic.
During the Launch of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, Acting Director Allison Randall of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) delivered remarks and facilitated a roundtable discussion with leaders, advocates, and survivors. “Sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking are serious violent crimes that make our nation less equal and less just,” said Acting Director Randall. “Only a comprehensive response that is deeply informed by survivors and historically marginalized communities can end gender-based violence. Today we uplift the ongoing work of the Department of Justice and stand with colleagues across the federal government and with communities across the United States.”
The Justice Department’s work to respond to GBV is a whole-of-agency effort to provide comprehensive services for survivors and hold offenders accountable by enforcing the nation’s laws against these crimes. The department’s unwavering commitment to addressing GBV spans across funding, research, policy, technical assistance, training, and guidance that includes, but is not limited, to the following:
The OVW and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) administer grants to prevent, address and coordinate community responses across the nation to address gender-based violence. Funding helps to strengthen the criminal justice system’s response, expand victim services, support community-based efforts and bolster prevention.
Of note, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022) includes numerous improvements to legal tools and expansions to OVW grant programs addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Also, each year, OJP’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) administers hundreds of millions of dollars to all states and territories for crime victim assistance and compensation, including for survivors of gender-based violence.
Policies and Guidance
- In October 2022, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued revised Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. The revised guidelines address the responsibilities of department employees when working with victims and witnesses of crime to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect during criminal justice proceedings. The Guidelines address the myriad needs of survivors of gender-based violence.
- On May 23, the department released the National Protocol for Intimate Partner Violence Medical Forensic Examinations to guide the clinical practice of conducting comprehensive assessments for patients experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) that prioritize the patient’s health and well-being.
- In April 2022, the department issued Federal Workplace Responses to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking, an agency policy that aims to improve safety in the workplace for employees and contractors who could potentially be victims of such crimes.
- In May 2022, the department released updated guidance in Improving Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence by Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias aimed at enhancing law enforcement’s approach to handling sexual assault and domestic violence cases by identifying and preventing gender bias.
Projects and Initiatives
- In April 2023, the Civil Rights Division’s Coordinating Committee to Combat Sexual Misconduct released a fact sheet showcasing its achievements in combatting sexual misconduct throughout the preceding year.
- In September 2022, OVC funded Restoring Youth: Supporting Sexual Abuse Survivors in Youth Detention, a program aimed at expanding services for sexual abuse survivors in youth detention. The project will build the capacity of four selected grantee partnership sites, comprised of youth detention facilities and community-based sexual abuse survivor service providers, to establish services for youth that are rooted in racial equity and accessible to survivors from traditionally underserved communities.
- OVC funded several initiatives to prevent Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) including a Support Line for Survivors of FGM/C, an End FGM/C Network Resources Page, and a Voices to End FGM/C Digital Storytelling Project. They also funded two national trainings for maternal healthcare providers to address FGM/C in May of 2023.
- OVC funded the Youth Collaboratory to implement projects to prevent and reduce the victimization of Black girls vulnerable to sex trafficking by increasing the capacity of program providers and other stakeholders working to prevent the trafficking of Black girls. The projects included a three-part video series that amplified voices from the field-direct service professionals, researchers, youth and young adults with lived expertise, and multidisciplinary providers. Additionally, the Girls Action Board (GAB), a national leadership opportunity for youth and young adults (ages 18-24) with lived expertise, wrote and performed a collaborative poetry piece about the importance of centering Black girls.
Addressing Crimes Against American Indian and Alaska Native Communities
- In July 2022, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco issued a memorandum reiterating the priority of the Department of Justice to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and relatedly, the high rates impacting indigenous women and girls reported missing or murdered. The memorandum directed each U.S. Attorney with Indian country jurisdiction – along with their law enforcement partners at the Justice Department – to update and develop new plans for addressing missing and murdered persons crisis.
- On Aug. 8-10, the OVW will hold the 18th Annual OVW Government-to-Government Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Women in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on behalf of the Attorney General. The 2022 Tribal consultation report is available here.
- In December 2022, the OVC held its Tribal Nation’s Conference in Palm Springs, California, bringing together thousands of Tribal leaders, victim service providers, and criminal justice practitioners to address crime victimization in Indian Country, including all aspects of gender-based violence.
- In April 2022, OVW issued an interim final rule governing the Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ) Reimbursement Program, a new program authorized under VAWA 2022 to reimburse Tribal governments for expenses incurred in exercising STCJ over non-Native individuals who commit certain covered crimes on tribal lands.
- OVC administers the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside, which provides non-competitive grant funding to support victim services, including gender-based violence. Tribal set-aside awards support activities such as shelters, child advocacy centers, sexual assault services, community outreach and education; and other activities needed to address survivors in tribal communities.
Research and Data
- In May 2022, OVW released the FY 2023 Research and Evaluation Initiative to conduct research that facilitates researcher-practitioner partnerships and studies interventions that address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
- In March 2023, the Department’s National Institute of Justice released a solicitation to conduct research and evaluation projects examining a broad range of topics, including the crimes of domestic and family violence, intimate partner violence, rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, stalking, and teen dating violence, also known as adolescent relationship abuse, along with the associated criminal justice system response, procedures, and policies.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) maintains a collection of data that support efforts to address gender-based violence. These measures are collected on several BJS data collections, although the approach to measurement can vary depending on the collection and the year of administration: National Crime Victimization Survey, National Inmate Survey, National Survey of Youth in Custody, and Survey of Prison Inmates.