- Report Published -
|Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia 2011 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 and cultures. 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. In 2010, there were almost 62,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state. (*i) At least 166 men, women, and children lost their lives to domestic violence, representing a 19.4% increase in family and intimate partner homicides from 2009 to 2010. (*ii) A total of 6,261 adults and children received 188,982 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 2,571 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space. (*iii) A total of 35,846 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. (*iv)
In 2011, Virginia continued to make great strides to address domestic and sexual violence. The Virginia General Assembly enacted important legislation that widely expanded Virginia’s current protective order system. The legislation made protective orders available to a wider class of people for a wider range of threatening or violent conduct, and removed the requirement that an arrest warrant be issued as a prerequisite to obtaining a protective order. In addition, the penalties for violating protective orders, previously referred to as "stalking protective orders," were made more consistent with the penalties for violating family abuse protective orders, resulting in enhanced punishment for a second or subsequent violation of a protective order, for an assault and battery committed against a protected party, or when the respondent enters the protected party’s home.
The General Assembly also passed legislation to bring more attention to the issue of human trafficking, an issue that is closely related to domestic and sexual violence not only in the types of resulting domestic and sexual crimes, but also in the impact it has on victims, children, and the larger community.
Also in 2011, Governor Bob McDonnell convened the Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board to review Virginia’s laws, policies, and procedures related to domestic violence, and make recommendations to the Administration for improving services and enhancing the community response to domestic violence, enhancing campus safety, and clarifying related legal processes. The Advisory Board met during the spring and summer of 2011 and included 45 members appointed by the Governor representing a wide range of professions and expertise from across the Commonwealth. Four subcommittees were formed to steer the work of the Advisory Board: Protective Order Enhancement and Implementation, Enhancing Campus Safety, Improving Services to Children and Youth, and Expanding Services to Older Victims and Victims with Disabilities and Mental Illness. From these subcommittees, a total of nineteen recommendations were offered for consideration by Governor McDonnell’s Administration. More information on the Advisory Board and its report and recommendations are included later in this Report.
In 2011, 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.
• The Virginia Community Defined Solutions to Violence Against Women Grant, a partnership of five state agencies and two statewide nonprofit organizations, collaborated to provide intensive training and technical assistance at the state and local levels to promote practices that enhance victim safety and offender accountability. In 2011, the partnership provided training and technical assistance to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, advocates, and allied professionals on domestic and sexual violence issues, as well as building an effective coordinated community response.
• Through its Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor, the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Services Council (CASC) continued to provide intensive training to prosecutors on issues involving violence against women, including sexual assault, human trafficking, and elder abuse. In 2011, CASC provided a total of 28 hours of continuing legal education credit to Virginia prosecutors.
• The Virginia Center on Aging with the Central Virginia Training Alliance to Stop Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation, a coalition of law enforcement agencies, Commonwealth’s Attorney’s offices, and services providers, conducted a two-day training for law enforcement officers on elder abuse dynamics and investigation strategies. The Training Alliance continued cross sector collaboration efforts working with criminal justice professionals, adult protective services, victim advocates, ageing services providers, and other professionals.
• The Office of the Attorney General brought awareness to the issues of domestic and sexual violence and their impact on victims, including child victims. In April 2011, the OAG hosted a public awareness event for Sexual Violence Awareness Month, to honor child victims of sexual violence. The event included a collection drive for Operation Fuzzy, an initiative of The Franks Foundation to provide comfort kits to children who undergo forensic or sexual assault examinations in hospitals across Virginia. As a result, materials for more than 80 complete comfort kits were donated by OAG staff members, as well as local programs.
• The Department of Criminal Justice Services developed and finalized "Sexual Assault Response Teams: A Model Protocol for Virginia," guidelines which focus on comprehensive, coordinated intervention and care for adult victims of sexual assault. Localities are encouraged to use the model protocol as they continue to address sexual assault in their communities.
• The Department of Health participated in Project Connect, a groundbreaking multi-state initiative of Futures Without Violence (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund), which seeks to develop comprehensive models of public health prevention and intervention that can lead to improved health and safety for victims of sexual and domestic violence. In fact, the Project Connect Leadership Team was selected in December 2011 to be featured on the Futures Without Violence website as part of its "16 Days of Activism Campaign," and also will be honored at the National Domestic Violence Conference in March 2012. Project Connect has been recognized for taking a major lead in deepening the link between health promotion and violence prevention.
• The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance continued to expand and strengthen The Red Flag Campaign to address dating violence and promote the prevention of dating violence on college campuses. In 2011, eighteen Virginia campuses joined The Red Flag Campaign as "Partner Campuses," including five community colleges and two of Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
In addition, these agencies and organizations identified and collected data on family and intimate partner violence-related fatalities, domestic and sexual 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.
Agencies and organizations across the Commonwealth continued their efforts to address domestic and sexual violence in 2011 even though funding sources continued to be significantly impacted by the economy. Based on a survey of local domestic and sexual violence programs by the Office of Family Violence in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General in 2011, ninety-six percent of the programs responding to the survey reported a decrease in funding from one or more funding sources in FY 2011, an 11% increase from FY 2010. Specifically, seventy-one percent of responding programs reported a loss from state or federal grant funding sources in FY 2011, a 6% increase from the previous year. In addition to a loss of funding, a number of programs also reported a reduction in staff. With less monetary and personnel resources, these programs continued to provide resources to meet the needs of victims and to address the issues of domestic and sexual violence in their communities.
As we enter 2012, 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.
(*i) Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, "Domestic Violence Services in Virginia – VAdata Report 2010" (2011).
(*ii) Information from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Virginia Department of Health. The number for domestic violence homicides in 2010 is current as of December 2, 2011. This number may change, however, as some cases from 2010 remain under investigation.
(*iii) Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, "Domestic Violence Services in Virginia – VAdata Report 2010" (2011).
(*iv) Information provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia.