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Federal funding to address violence against women

Just 35 years ago, domestic violence was hidden behind closed doors.1 It wasn't until the 1970s that states began addressing violence against women, including sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence.2 One decade later, in 1984, the federal Department of Justice Task Force on Family Violence issued the first-ever report to examine the scope and effects of domestic violence in America.3

ACF began the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program in 1984 with the first federal funding for emergency shelter and services for victims of domestic violence and their children. In 1984, CDC started collecting data on sexual and intimate partner violence through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.4 

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed and administered through the Department of Justice and HHS. The VAWA authorized the opening of the 24-hour, toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline and funding for women's shelters, through ACF. The hotline provides nationwide crisis assistance and local shelter referrals to victims of domestic violence. In 1996, the CDC, along with other parts of the federal government, jointly sponsored the National Violence Against Women Survey to further the understanding of violence against women.5 Beginning in 2010, CDC and other parts of the federal government began collecting nationwide population-based information on violence against women in the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

In 2010, in response to high rates of sexual assault among Native American women, IHS began initiatives to develop domestic violence prevention activities and sexual assault response teams for IHS hospitals.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires most insurers to cover screening and brief counseling for domestic or interpersonal violence for all women at no cost. More recently, in 2013, a White House report6, with leadership from HHS, explored the link between HIV/AIDS and violence against women and girls.


  1. The White House, Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Violence Against Women Act
  2. Department of Justice, The History of the Violence Against Women Act
  3. Department of Justice, The History of the Violence Against Women Act
  4. CDC, Sexual Violence: Data Sources
  5. CDC, Sexual Violence: Data Sources
  6. The White House, Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities