Home / Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)


Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)


Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)



Frequently Asked Questions

Expand All


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law that, in part, provides housing protections for people applying for or living in units subsidized by the federal government and who have experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to help keep them safe and reduce their likelihood of experiencing homelessness.


Under VAWA, someone who has experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking (VAWA violence/abuse):

  • Cannot be denied admission to or assistance under a HUD-subsidized or assisted unit or program because of the VAWA violence/abuse committed against them.
  • Cannot be evicted from a HUD-subsidized unit nor have their assistance terminated because of the VAWA violence/abuse committed against them.
  • Cannot be denied admission, evicted, or have their assistance terminated for reasons related to the VAWA violence/abuse, such as having an eviction record, criminal history, or bad credit history.
  • Must have the option to stay in their HUD-subsidized housing, even if there has been criminal activity directly related to the VAWA violence/abuse.
  • Can request an emergency transfer from the housing provider for safety reasons related to the VAWA violence/abuse committed against them.
  • Must be allowed to move with continued assistance, if the survivor has a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.
  • Must be able to provide proof to the housing provider by self-certifying using the HUD VAWA Self-certification (Form HUD-5382), and not be required to provide more proof unless the housing provider has conflicting information about the violence/abuse.
  • Must receive HUD's Notice of VAWA Housing Rights (Form HUD-5380) and HUD's VAWA Self-certification Form (Form HUD-5382) from the housing provider, when they are denied admission to a HUD-subsidized unit or HUD program, when they are admitted to a HUD-subsidized unit or HUD program, and when they receive a notice of eviction from a HUD-subsidized unit or notice of termination from a HUD program.
  • Has a right to strict confidentiality of information regarding their status as a survivor.
  • Can request a lease bifurcation from the owner or landlord to remove the perpetrator from the lease or unit, and if the housing provider bifurcates, it must be done consistent with applicable federal, state, or local laws and the requirements of the HUD housing program.
  • Cannot be coerced, intimated, threatened, or retaliated against by HUD-subsidized housing providers for seeking or exercising VAWA protections.
  • Has the right to seek law enforcement or emergency assistance for themselves or others without being penalized by local laws or policies for these requests or because they were victims of criminal activity.


VAWA’s housing protections, in part, are available to someone who has previously or is currently experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking. The survivor does NOT have to be married to, related to, or living with the perpetrator to be protected by VAWA. It does not matter how long ago the survivor experienced the violence. A survivor’s immigration status in itself does not impact a survivor’s right to VAWA’s housing protections.

VAWA's housing protections, in part, apply to a survivor if they are applying for or living in shelter, transitional housing, or permanent housing that is subsidized by a federal homeless assistance program or federal affordable housing program. See below for a list of HUD programs covered by VAWA.

VAWA protects survivors, regardless of their sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation AND regardless of the sex, gender identity or sexual orientation of the person who caused harm.


VAWA’s housing safeguards apply to survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. These forms of violence (collectively called “VAWA violence/abuse”) are defined below.

Domestic Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim under the family or domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant funding and, in the case of victim services, includes the use or attempted use of physical abuse or sexual abuse, or a pattern of any other coercive behavior committed, enabled, or solicited to gain or maintain power and control over a victim, including verbal, psychological, economic, or technological abuse that may or may not constitute criminal behavior, by a person who —

(A) is a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, or person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim;
(B) is cohabitating, or has cohabitated, with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
(C) shares a child in common with the victim; or
(D) commits acts against a youth or adult victim who is protected from those acts under the family or domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction.

Dating violence means violence committed by a person—

(A) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and
(B) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
(i) The length of the relationship.
(ii) The type of relationship.
(iii) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Sexual Assault is any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.

Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to— (A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.


If you believe your VAWA rights have been violated, you can visit this link to file a complaint with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). You can also find out more about the complaint process. These sites provide information in multiple languages and include instructions for filing a complaint online on HUD’s website and by email, mail, or telephone.
Note: HUD is currently updating its complaint form to include VAWA protections. However, you may still use the current complaint form to file a VAWA complaint. On the complaint form, please explain in the narrative section why you believe your VAWA rights were violated.

HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) works to eliminate housing discrimination and promote civil rights and economic opportunity through housing. FHEO enforces VAWA and other fair housing and civil rights laws, and one of its roles is to investigate complaints of housing discrimination.

It is unlawful to retaliate against someone who has made a complaint or participated in any manner in a proceeding involving HUD’s complaint process or investigation, or who has reported a discriminatory practice to a housing provider or other authority.


For more information on VAWA and Fair Housing, see here.








VAWA Forms

Forms HUD-5380, 5381, 5382, and 5383 are available in multiple languages.

  • Notice of Occupancy Rights under VAWA (Form HUD-5380)
  • Model Emergency Transfer Plan for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking (Form HUD-5381)
  • Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking, and Alternate Documentation (Form HUD-5382)
  • Emergency Transfer Request for Certain Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking (Form HUD-5383)

File a VAWA Complaint with FHEO



Program Office Specific Resources

For more information on Public and Indian Housing programs covered by VAWA, see the following:


Help for Survivors


National Hotlines


National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
TYY: 1-800-787-3224
Text “START” to 88788

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
1-866-331-8453 (TTY)

National Human Trafficking Hotline
711 (TTY)
Text: 233733

National Runaway Safeline
1-800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

National Center for Victims of Crime
1-855-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846) (call or text)




Additional Resources


Disclaimer: Neither the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, these websites (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).

National Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium
An innovative, collaborative approach to providing training, technical assistance, and resource development at the critical intersection of domestic and sexual violence, homelessness, and housing.

National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC)
A comprehensive national resource committed to advancing victims’ rights and helping victims of crime rebuild their lives. It is dedicated to serving individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime.

Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)
With the U.S. Department of Justice, this office provides federal leadership in administering justice for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as strengthening services to such survivors.

Office on Trafficking in Persons
Under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this office’s mission is to combat human trafficking by supporting and leading systems that prevent trafficking through public awareness, and protect victims through identification and assistance to become self-sufficient.

Family Violence Prevention & Services Act Program
Under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program is the primary federal funding stream dedicated to supporting emergency shelters and related assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children.

Office for Victims of Crime – Directory of Crime Victim Services
A search tool for various services throughout the United States for all types of survivors of crime.

Office for Victims of Crime – Direct Services for Victims
A list of direct services (including toll-free numbers and hotlines) and referrals through the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime.

Victim Connect Resource map
A searchable tool with national and local resources that can be filtered by categories, services, location, and keywords.

HUD Exchange - Need Housing Assistance?
A resource guide for those needing assistance with housing through HUD’s community partners.





National Network to End Domestic Violence
A social change organization dedicated to creating a social, political, and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists.

Safe Housing Alliance
An organization established to ensure survivors of domestic and sexual violence have access to a full range of housing options.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National organization that supports efforts for change of conditions that lead to domestic violence and holding offenders accountable.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
A source of information for those wanting to educate themselves and help others on the many issues related to domestic violence.


Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
The largest anti-sexual violence organization that carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
National network of community-based rape crisis centers and local organizations who support the needs of sexual assault survivors.


Office on Human Trafficking in Persons – Grantees
Provides information and resources about human trafficking.

Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking Program Grantees
A list of grantees throughout the United States offering services to victims of human trafficking.

Freedom Network USA
A network of trafficking survivors, legal and social service providers, researchers, advocacy organizations, and consultants ensuring survivors have access to justice, safety and opportunity.

Ujima, Inc.: National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community A national resource center whose mission is to mobilize the community to respond to and end domestic, sexual and community violence within the Black community.

National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA) An advocacy organization of Women of Color dedicated to working with the communities to create a just society in which all Women of Color are able to live healthy lives free of violence.

National Organization of Asians and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Assault (NAPIESV) A program under Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity, supporting local and international community-based programs and governmental organizations in enhancing their services to victims of sexual violence from the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S., U.S. Territories in the Pacific, and Asia.


Legal Services Corporation
Search for help with a civil legal problem by location.

Law Help
Offers list of legal aid providers and information about legal rights by state.

Women’s Law
Find legal resources and shelters by state.





Footer Image: VAWA


If you are in danger, please call 911 or a national hotline. HUD is not a direct service provider and does not provide individual counseling, crisis response, or legal services to individuals who have experienced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and/or human trafficking. For more information and to connect to a local service provider in your area, please see Help for Survivors.

Please be aware that web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer) often track which websites you visit, which can be viewed in the search history. This information could put you at further risk if discovered by a perpetrator, so please be cautious and clear your browsing history. To find out how to clear your browsing history, click here. If possible, you may want to use a computer that the perpetrator is unlikely to use, such as at a public library.