- Report Published -
|Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia - 2013 Annual Report|
|Office of the Attorney General and Department of Law|
|Domestic and sexual violence impact our families, homes, communities, schools, and workplaces on a daily basis. Domestic and sexual violence impact all socio-economic levels, cultures, and religions. Whether the impact is open and obvious, such as a tragic homicide that receives media attention and spurs a community to action, or hidden and subtle, such as the emotional and psychological effect on children who silently live with the violence, domestic and sexual violence can penetrate even the deepest levels of our society.|
The available data highlights the impact of these crimes in Virginia. It is estimated that, based upon the most recent data available, in 2012, at least 117 men, women, and children lost their lives to domestic violence, representing a 12.7% decrease in family and intimate partner homicides from 2011 to 2012. (*1) Also in 2012, there were more than 67,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state. (*2) A total of 6,592 adults and children received 198,274 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 3,486 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space. (*3) A total of 51,019 emergency protective orders were issued by magistrates and judges across the Commonwealth to protect the immediate health and safety of victims and their family members. (*4)
During the 2013 Session, the General Assembly passed legislation to continue to improve and strengthen laws surrounding domestic and sexual violence. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1004 to allow a tenant who is a victim of (i) family abuse, (ii) sexual abuse, or (iii) criminal sexual assault to terminate a rental agreement under certain circumstances. House Bill 1643 and Senate Bill 1016 were passed to clarify that a protective order entered due to a violation of an initial protective order shall remain in effect upon petition for or the pendency of an appeal. The legislation also clarifies that family abuse protective orders are included in the types of protective orders that are not stayed upon appeal. The General Assembly also passed HB 2211, which provides that a person who is convicted of a second offense of stalking occurring within five years of a prior conviction of such an offense is guilty of a Class 6 felony when such person was also convicted within the five-year period prior to the instant offense of a violation of (i) assault and battery and other crimes against the same victim, (ii) assault and battery against a family or household member, or (iii) a protective order.
In 2013, Virginia’s state and local agencies and organizations provided tools and resources to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, health care providers, social service providers, and allied professionals. State, local, and private partners also promoted public awareness and prevention initiatives and supported collaborative efforts among agencies and organizations to enhance the overall response to domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking. For example:
• Through The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia (OES) Court Improvement and Training Grant, the Pulaski Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court organized and co-sponsored a multi-disciplinary training event for the community, which included a training entitled, “Civil Protection Orders: Improving Practice” in September 2013, in Dublin, Virginia. There were 98 people in attendance from multiple disciplines, including three judges, five magistrates, and 15 clerks.
• The Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council (CASC) again offered an intensive five-day training program to sexual violence prosecutors and investigators, entitled “Trauma to Trial: Investigating and Prosecuting Adult Non-Stranger Sexual Assault,” to 15 prosecutor/investigator teams from across the state. In addition to “Trauma to Trial,” CASC also offered domestic violence and sexual assault prosecution training at its larger, statewide training programs, including the CASC’s Spring Institute, held in March 2013 and attended by 726 prosecutors. CASC offered classes on handling cross-warrants, evidence-based prosecution, and internal versus external validation of testimonial evidence.
• The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) increased awareness of the issues of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking and their impact on victims. In November 2013, as a joint collaboration of the OAG V-STOP grant, The James House Intervention and Prevention Services, Inc., and the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the OAG hosted the training “Investigating and Prosecuting Stalking Cases” in Colonial Heights, Virginia. More than 75 prosecutors, law enforcement officers, advocates, victim/witness program staff, and allied professionals participated in the training. In February, the V-STOP and the CDS/GEAP grants co-hosted "Serve the Underserved: Effective Handling of Domestic and Sexual Violence Cases with Underserved Victims" in Chesterfield, Virginia. Approximately 90 prosecutors, law enforcement officers, advocates, victim/witness program staff, and allied professionals attended the training. The V-STOP program and the Anti-Human Trafficking program co-hosted two "Human Trafficking for the Service Provider" trainings, one in Fredericksburg and one in Weyers Cave, with approximately 85 total attendees. The Anti-Human Trafficking Program conducted four regional, multidisciplinary trainings for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and victim-witness coordinators. Approximately 220 people attended these intensive two-day trainings.
• The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), in 2013, conducted five workshops and a train-the-trainer session, resulting in 36 new trainers and more than 250 health care professionals trained in the RADAR method for intimate partner violence screening. In addition, four Project Connect train-the-trainer sessions were held, certifying 45 family planning providers and 54 home visitors to facilitate Project Connect workshops locally. Ten half-day workshops were held with a total of 296 participants.
• The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, through its Training Institute, provided training to nearly 115 advocates, law enforcement officers, and allied professionals at its Spring Retreat in June 2013. A pre-retreat training on strangulation was provided by Gael Strack, J.D., and Ralph Riviello, M.D., of the National Strangulation Training Institute. The Retreat centered around trauma informed care practices for advocates working with people who experience sexual and intimate partner violence.
• The Virginia Community Defined Solutions (CDS)/Grant to Encourage Arrest Policies and the Enforcement of Protection Orders (GEAP) Partnership worked collaboratively to create the CommunitySolutionsVA.org website. This website is a clearinghouse of information and resources for professionals working to address and prevent sexual and domestic violence in Virginia. The resources provided are designed to help communities enhance their response to sexual and domestic violence. It is also designed to help improve access to services for people affected by sexual and domestic violence.
• In November 2013, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) launched the Virginia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Information System, or VAFRIS. VAFRIS was funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Community Defined Solutions to Violence Against Women Grant Program. Reflecting a partnership between the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, VAFRIS was designed for use by Virginia’s local and regional domestic violence fatality review teams. These teams review the circumstances of domestic violence related homicides and/or suicides in order to identify opportunities for improved community response and effective intervention for injury and violence prevention. VAFRIS will help teams to collect, store, and report critical information about these preventable and premature deaths.
• The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) coordinated a two-and-a-half-day training event, Law Enforcement Response to Adult Sexual Assault: Training of Trainers. Attendance at this unique training was determined through a competitive application process, which consisted of 39 participants in a total of 17 teams, including team representation from five Virginia college campuses. Teams were comprised of at least one law enforcement officer and one sexual assault victim advocate from the same locality or campus. The training focused on non-stranger, adult sexual assault investigations and included updated information on Virginia’s sexual assault laws. Participants were provided with and trained on a law enforcement response to sexual assault training curriculum.
In addition, these agencies and organizations identified and collected data on family and intimate partner violence-related fatalities, domestic and sexual violence-related crimes, protective orders, and services to victims and children in order to assist with providing a broader picture of these issues that confront our communities. Much of that information is included in this Report.
As we enter 2014, we must continue to support the efforts of agencies and programs across the Commonwealth that work tirelessly to promote victim safety and offender accountability, while learning new ways to provide services both efficiently and effectively.
(*1) Information from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Virginia Department of Health. The number for domestic violence homicides in 2012 is current as of December 2013. This number may change, however, as some cases from 2012 remain under investigation.
(*2) Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Domestic Violence Services in Virginia – VAdata Report 2012 (2013).
(*4) Information provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia.