- Report Published -
|Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Virginia Annual Report 2007|
|Office of the Attorney General and Department of Law|
|As part of Virginia's effort to combat domestic and sexual violence, the Commonwealth continues to provide support for victims' programs and services through funding, training, and outreach. Virginia has also enacted new laws and penalties to prosecute offenders and hold them accountable. In addition, fatality review teams, under the leadership of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, have been established to evaluate events leading up to a fatality as a result of intimate partner violence.|
Certified sexual and domestic violence programs provide a host of services free of charge, 24 hours a day, throughout Virginia. These services include emergency shelters, transportation, sexual assault crisis intervention, relocation of victims to safe havens, rape prevention programs, counseling, safety planning, community outreach, job training, education programs and awareness initiatives. Information from Vadata, a statewide data collection system for Virginia's Sexual and Domestic Violence Service Providers, shows that from 2000 to 2006, the number of families and children sheltered annually has more than doubled.
Domestic Violence Service Providers responded to over 51,000 crisis situations in 2006 and provided services to victims, family members of victims, friends of victims, and others. In addition to hotline calls, victims' advocates also responded in person to 9,639 crises.
Further, in 2006, Sexual Assault Service Providers trained nearly 100,000 individuals and responded to over 13,000 crisis situations. In addition, they provided over 40,000 services to victims, family members, and allied professionals. Advocates also responded in person to 4,284 crises.
In October of 2007, the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, awarded continued funding of a Federal grant to Encourage Arrest and Enforcement of Protective Orders to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Virginia Department of State Police, the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance jointly applied for the grant and will remain active partners to accomplish the goals outlined in the grant. A total of $1,264,542 was awarded to these state agencies to continue working together to review policies and practices related to family abuse cases and to develop tools to assist communities in their efforts to assure victim safety and perpetrator accountability. The partners will continue to work together by offering training, technical assistance, and resources to fourteen Virginia localities, based on the issues and needs identified by professionals in each of those localities. The localities are within in six regions of the Commonwealth and include: the Counties of Albemarle, Dickenson, Fairfax, Henry, Lee, Russell, Scott, Washington, and Wise; the Cities of Charlottesville, Martinsville, Norfolk, and Roanoke; and the University of Virginia campus.
Collaboration with Virginia's business community continues to improve the services we provide to victims of domestic violence. In October 2007, Verizon Wireless donated $145,000 in grants to organizations dedicated to combating domestic violence. Details relating to other funding sources have been outlined in this Report.
Education and training are other important tools m fighting domestic and sexual violence in Virginia's communities. Community leaders, law enforcement personnel, service providers, researchers, and other experts are engaged in the search for better measures to combat domestic and sexual violence through heightened awareness. Various initiatives have been undertaken. One such initiative is the Office of the Attorney General's semi-annual conference, which focused on Native American Women and their plight to overcome domestic violence. The Office of the Attorney General also hosted a Domestic Violence Summit in October of 2007 and brought together many of Virginia's leaders, service providers, and law enforcement personnel to assess the achievements of the past decade and to chart a course of action for the future as Virginia strives to eradicate domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justices Services and the Virginia Action Alliance provided training to law enforcement officers in the area of sexual assault investigation. Further, at least 1,500 health care providers received training through the Virginia Department of Health. The training was aimed at improving the capacity of health care professionals to recognize and effectively respond to victims of intimate partner violence. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Injury and Violence Prevention, partnered nationally with STOP IT NOW and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance to provide training on prevention of child sexual abuse.
Comprehensive reports of other initiatives, involving other agencies and organizations from across Virginia, are detailed in this Report.
Other initiatives by various organizations include, training for men and boys on sexual violence prevention; intensive youth-peer education; "train the trainer" programs; and collaboration with the Virginia Campus Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Virginia also made legislative changes that are crucial to protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence. These amendments and new laws will enhance the safety of all victims of domestic violence.
These efforts, along with the other initiatives detailed in this Annual Report, demonstrate that the Commonwealth of Virginia is committed to working with law enforcement, experts, service providers, legislators, and local government, and citizens to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. Clearly, working together we can make a difference in Virginia.