March 7, 2013

APA Applauds Signing of Violence Against Women Act

Reauthorization of intimate partner violence legislation helps special populations, bolsters public health response, APA asserts

WASHINGTON—The American Psychological Association issued the following statement to mark President Barack Obama’s signing of the Violence Against Women Act:

“The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act marks the culmination of years of advocacy by APA members and staff, and by many like-minded organizations, to ensure that all survivors of intimate partner violence receive the services and support necessary for optimal health and well-being,” said Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA’s chief executive officer.

The law also includes enhanced protections for American Indian/Pacific Islander/Alaska natives, immigrant and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, which was a key focus of APA’s advocacy work. Among the provisions supported by APA, several focus on strengthening the health care system's identification, assessment and response to violence. For example, the law calls for:

  • Integrating treatment for domestic and sexual violence into family planning, adolescent health and home visitation programs.

  • Supporting health educators and health and trauma-related associations to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate education materials on how  to help those affected by a lifetime exposure to violence and abuse.

  • Supporting research to evaluate effective interventions within health care settings to prevent violence and abuse across the life span; address and prevent the physical and mental health effects of such violence; and improve the safety and physical and mental health of individuals who are victimized.

Nearly 1 in 4 women in the U.S. reports experiencing intimate partner violence at some point in her life and 15 million children live in families in which intimate partner violence occurred within the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the third time the law has been reauthorized by Congress since its initial passage in 1994.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.