First signed into law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been credited with helping reduce domestic violence by two-thirds. VAWA is a federal law aimed at ending violence against women. On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing VAWA for another five years. The reauthorization gives $659 million a year over five years for VAWA programs intended to help end violence against women. The bill also expanded protection for domestic violence victims.
As many of our readers have heard, through watching or reading the news, the Jodi Arias trial has our country buzzing with talk about one of the most brutal and controversial murders reported in 2013. According to news reports, Arias killed her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, by stabbing him in the abdomen and back 27 times, slitting his throat from ear to ear, and shooting him in the head. Throughout the course of the trial, psychology experts have been brought in to provide their expert opinion regarding the motives and reasoning behind Arias' bizarre actions. Among the many disturbing parts of this case include Arias' claim that she was a victim of domestic violence during her relationship with Alexander, and her murder was simply an act of self-defense. While the jury decides on the legitimacy of her claim, it is important for us to be aware of what qualifies as domestic violence, and how to leave an abusive relationship. The following describes the criteria used by Illinois law in determining domestic violence: