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Violence Against Women Act

A federal law that went into effect in 1994, and was reauthorized and amended in 2013, provides legal protections to individuals who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The name of the law is the Violence Against Women Act, or "VAWA." 

VAWA Notice and Forms

Protections for Victims

If you are eligible for Public Housing, Multifamily Housing, or a Section 8 housing program, the CDA cannot refuse to admit you into the housing program on the basis that you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the CDA cannot evict you from CDA housing, or terminate your housing assistance, based on acts or threats of violence committed against you. Also, crimninal acts directly related to the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking that are caused by a member of your household or a guest cannot be the reason for eviction or termination of assistance, if you were the victim of the abuse. 

Reasons you can be Evicted

The CDA can still evict you, or teriminate your housing assistance, if the CDA can show there is an acutal and imminent (immediate) threat to other tenants, CDA Staff, or property staff if you are not evicted, or your housing assistance is not terminated. Also, the CDA can evict you, or terminate your housing assistance, for serious or repeated lease violations or program rules that are not related to the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against you. The CDA cannot hold you to a more demanding set of rules than it applies to tenants or program participants who are not victims.

Removing the Abuser from the Household

The CDA or Section 8 landlord may split the lease to evict a tenant who has committed criminal acts of violence against family members or others, while allowing the victim and other household members to stay in the subsidized unit. If the CDA or Section 8 landlord chooses to remove the abuser, it may not take arway the remaining tenants' rights to the unit or otherwise punish the reamining tenants. In removing the abuser from the household, the CDA or Section 8 landlord must follow federal, state, and local eviction procedures.

Moving to Protect Your Safety

The CDA may permit you to move to another subsidized unit, subject to the availability of other units, even if your current lease has not yet expired. The CDA may ask you to provide proof that you are moving because of an incidence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. If the request to move is a request for an emergency transfer, the CDA may ask you to submit a written request or fill out a form (form HUD-5383) so that you may certify that you meet the criteria for an emergency transfer under VAWA.

Proving you are a Victim of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

The CDA may ask you to prove or "certify" that you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The CDA must give you at least 14 business days (i.e. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays do not count) to provide this proof. The CDA is free to extend the deadline. There are three (3) ways you can prove that you are a victim:

  • Complete the certification form given to you by the CDA (form HUD-5382). the form will ask for your name, the name of your abuser, the abuser's relationship to you, the date, time, and location of the incident of violence, and a description of the violence. You are only required to provide the name of the abuser if it is safe to provide and you know their name.
  • Provide a statement from a victim service provider, attorney, mental health professional, or medical professional who has helped you address incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The professional must state that he/she believes that the incidents of abuse are real. Both you and the professional must sign the statement, and both of you must state that you are signing "under penalty of perjury."
  • Provide a police or court record, such as a protective order, or an administrative record.

Additionally, at its discretion, the CDA can accept a statement or other evidence provided by the applicant or tenant.

If you fail to provide one of these documents within the required time, the CDA may evict you, or terminate your housing assistance.


The CDA and your Section 8 landlord must keep confidential any information you provide about the violence against you, unless:

  • You given written permission to the CDA or your landlord to release the information.
  • The CDA or landlord needs to use the information in an eviction proceeding, such as to evict your abuser.
  • A law requires the CDA or landlord to release the information.

If release of the information would put your safety at risk, you should inform the CDA and your landlord.

VAWA and Other Laws

VAWA does not limit the CDA's or your Section 8 landlord's duty to honor court orders about access to or control of the property. This includes orders issued to protect a victim and orders dividing property among household members in cases where a family breaks up.

VAWA does not replace any federal, state, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Additional Information

If you have any questions regarding VAWA, please contact Lisa Daniels, CDA Housing Analyst at (608) 267-8709.

For help and advice on escaping an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). You may also contact Domestic Abuse Intervention Services of Dane County at 1-800-747-4045.


For purposes of determining whether a CDA program participant may be covered by VAWA, the following list of definitions applies:

VAWA defines domestic violence to include felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by 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.

VAWA defines dating violence as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

VAWA defines sexual assault as any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by federal, tribal, or state law, including when the victim lacks the capacity to consent.

VAWA defines stalking as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress.





Last Updated: 07/03/2018


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