Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a broad-based law formulated in 1994 in response to the increasing violence against women in America. The Act has provisions starting from funding of domestic-violence programs to new civil rights remedies for women who were victims of gender-based attacks.

VAWA provides for education, research, treatment of domestic and sex-crime victims, creation of rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. The Act also authorizes additional local police, prosecutors, victim advocates, and a domestic violence hotline to check the increasing violence. It distributed funds to increase safety for women on public transportation, for shelters, and for youth education programs. Funds were also made available to provide special training for judges who hear domestic violence cases. VAWA in short expanded rape shield laws, created offenses for interstate spousal abuse, and allowed victims of gender-based crimes to sue those responsible in federal court.

Legal Definitions

Dating Violence: violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.

The existence of such a relationship shall be based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. For the purposes of this definition, Dating Violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse, or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

For the purposes of complying with the requirements of this section and 34 CFR 668.41, any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting.

In North Carolina, dating violence includes the criminal offense of Violation of a Domestic Violence Protection Order (NCGS 50B-4.1).

Domestic Violence: a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by:

  1. a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
  2. a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
  3. a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
  4. a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or
  5. any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.

For the purposes of complying with the requirements of this section and 34 CFR 668.41, any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting.

In North Carolina, Domestic Violence includes the following criminal offenses: Simple Assault (NCGS 14-33(a), Assault inflicting Serious Injury (NCGS 14-33(c)(1), Assault on a Female (NCGS 14-33(c)(2), Assault by Pointing a Gun (NCGS 14-34) or Violation of a Domestic Violence Protection Order (NCGS 50B-4.1).

Sexual Assault: A sexual assault offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape as used in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. Per the National Incident-Based Reporting System User Manual from the FBI UCR Program, A sex offense is “any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

  • Rape: The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
  • Fondling: The touching of the private parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
  • Incest: Sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
  • Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Sexual Assault in the State of North Carolina includes the following criminal offenses: Forcible Rape (NCGS 14-27.2/NCGS 14-27.3), Statutory Rape, (NCGS 14-27.2(a)(1)/NCGS 14-27.7A) Forcible Sexual Offense (NCGS 14-27.4/NCGS 14-27.5), Statutory Sexual Offense (NCGS 14-27.4 (a)(1) NCGS 14-27.7A(a)), Sexual Activity by a Substitute Parent/by a Custodian/with a Student (NCGS 14-27.7), Indecent Liberties with a Child/between Children/with a Student (NCGS 14-202.1/NCGS 14-202.2/NCGS 14-202.4), Sexual Battery (NCGS 14-27.5A), Solicitation of a Child by Computer to Commit an Unlawful Sex Act (NCGS 14-202.3).

Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or Suffer substantial emotional distress.

For the purposes of this definition:

  • Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
  • Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.
  • Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

For the purposes of complying with the requirements of this section and 34 CFR 668.41, any incident meeting this definition is considered a crime for the purposes of Clery Act reporting.

In North Carolina, stalking includes the following criminal offenses: Stalking (NCGS 14-277.3), Cyberstalking (NCGS 14-196.3) and Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order (NCGS 50B-4.1).