Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Taubman Center

The Violence Against Women Act: Politics and Realities

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Robert Campus Center, Petteruti Lounge (75 Waterman St)

A panel discussion about the impact that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has had on various communities since 1994, and the impact on agencies and victims stemming from the delay in reauthorization. The panel will also address issues of intimate partner violence in the range of communities covered now by VAWA.

First passed by Congress in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was intended to strengthen federal penalties for domestic violence offenders, provide training for officers and prosecutors, and improve community services for victims. The Act was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 with strong bipartisan support.

The 2012 reauthorization met roadblocks when some Senate members objected to the bill's expanded protections, including language to prevent discrimination against lgbtq victims, language to allow local tribal authorities to prosecute all perpetrators of domestic violence on their reservations, and provisions that expand the U-visa for immigrant victims of crimes. Congress finally reauthorized VAWA in February of 2013, including these expanded provisions.

This Masha Dexter Memorial lecture is sponsored by the Taubman Center for Public Policy, the Sarah Doyle Women's Center and the LGBTQ Center.


Rachel DiBella is the Graduate Director of the Sexual Assault Network at Boston College, where she is also pursuing her MSW with a clinical concentration in addressing sexual trauma. In addition to facilitating professional trainings, support groups for LGB/TIQ-identifying survivors of violence, and community education programs on these issues, Rachel serves as the Graduate Clinical Intern for the DV/SA Program of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and on the Policy Committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

Erin Miller is an anti-racism activist and academic who has worked on behalf of survivors of multiple kinds of violence for the past 25 years. Her areas of expertise include the intersections of trauma and addiction, and domestic and sexual violence in LGB/TIQ communities. Currently, she serves as the coordinator of the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts. She also serves on the project management team of the National SANE Telenursing Center. Miller holds Master’s degrees in Africana Studies and Domestic Violence.

Michelle Nuey is the Manager of Community Relations and Outreach at the Brown University Department of Public Safety. She is an enrolled member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Massachusetts and formerly served as the tribal program director and advocate for the VAWA-funded Domestic Violence Education and Intervention Program, under the Mashpee Wampanoag Women's Medicine Society. Michelle is currently pursuing a MSW at Rhode Island College. Her research includes examining evidence-based practices/interventions for battered women and analyzing the Violence Against Women Act.

Vanessa Volz is an attorney and the Executive Director of Sojourner House, a comprehensive domestic violence agency that serves the Providence metro area and northern Rhode Island. She is an adjunct professor at Rhode Island College in the Gender and Women's Studies program, and she serves as the President of the board of the Women's Health and Education Fund. which provides financial assistance to low-income women who are accessing reproductive health services.