President Barack Obama, flanked by lawmakers and sexual abuse victims, on Thursday signed an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act, a measure that backs state efforts to combat rape and domestic assault and extends new protections to gays and Native Americans.

First authorized in 1994, the bill provides $660 million over the next five years for programs that provide legal assistance, transitional housing, counseling and support hotlines to victims of rape and domestic abuse.

In an emotional ceremony, held at the Department of Interior to accommodate the large crowd, Obama said the bill transformed the way survivors deal with abuse, providing a network of support that destigmatizes victims.