Minnesota advocate works on Violence Against Women Act with Sen. Klobuchar

In an attempt to seize the moment of the Me Too movement, there's a push in Washington D.C. to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. 

Now, lawmakers are also working for the act to include a bill championed by a local rape victim.

Enacted in 1994, under President Bill Clinton, the Violence Against Women Act provides grants that help break the cycle of sexual and domestic violence. It's been reauthorized and renewed several times over the years, most recently in 2013 after a bit of controversy regarding provisions dealing with immigrant victims, LBGTQ victims and Native American victims. 

Friday at a roundtable discussion in Minneapolis, Abby Honold sat alongside Senator Amy Klobuchar and fellow advocates. Honold, a former University of Minnesota student and rape victim, is working to make things better for sexual assault victims nationwide. 

Her bill is being added to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and specifically aims at improving how sexual assault survivors are interviewed by law enforcement during investigations. 

“I felt a lot of struggle in that initial interview and I couldn’t get details out I couldn’t get everything in order,” said Honold.

As Sen. Klobuchar points out, she's here to learn more about the various areas the Violence Against Women Act can improve, ranging from court proceedings, sex trafficking to the changing landscape the internet is contributing to economic, technical abuse and stalking. 

“VAWA has done quite a bit in the for victims of sexual assault and violence, but we know we can continue to do more,” said Teri Walker McLaughlin from the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Klobuchar also narrowed in on specific concerns surrounding immigrants being preyed upon and how delays in the visa application process could create a climate of even fewer victims coming forward. 

“Their personal perpetrators, in housing or employment or taxi cabs, all those vulnerabilities because those pieces of the system aren’t working as efficiently as they should,” said Patricia Moen of Casa de Esperanza.

“So many times the fights that get waged years ago get forgotten and then history can repeat themselves,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “That’s what I feel is happening now with the immigrant victim issue. I think it’s going to start happening again.”

Abby Honold originally started working on her bill with former Senator Al Franken before his resignation. Senator Klobuchar says she recently had breakfast with Franken and looks forward to updating him about how the bill is moving forward.