- Report Published -
|Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia 2012 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 2011, at least 134 men, women, and children lost their lives to domestic violence, representing a 21% decrease in family and intimate partner homicides from 2010 to 2011. (*1) Also in 2011, there were more than 64,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state. (*2) A total of 6,609 adults and children received 203,025 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 3,100 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space. (*3) A total of 44,277 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 2012 Session, the General Assembly passed legislation to continue to improve and strengthen laws surrounding domestic and sexual violence. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 459 and House Bill 752 to create a new felony offense for strangulation, a dangerous and deadly offense that is unfortunately all too common in domestic violence cases. The General Assembly also passed House Bill 973 and Senate Bill 436 to provide for a mandatory minimum life sentence in cases involving rape, forcible sodomy, or object sexual penetration of a child under the age of thirteen, where the offender is eighteen years of age or older at the time of the offense. Additional bills, including House Bill 1033 and Senate Bills 300 and 445, were passed to clarify the protective order process.
In 2012, 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. For example:
• The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia (OES) continued its implementation and expansion of the I-CAN! Virginia program, a free online program that enables a person to complete and print out the forms necessary to petition for a protective order in Virginia’s district courts. In early 2012, the OES launched a new I-CAN! Virginia module for Virginia’s general district courts, expanding the I-CAN! Virginia system to include two types of protective orders, family abuse and non-family abuse. I-CAN! Virginia also underwent a design change to incorporate both courts into the system and become more user friendly. From January 1, 2012 thru September 30, 2012, 507 users accessed I-CAN! Virginia and printed the forms necessary to petition for a protective order.
• 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 2012, 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.
• The Family and Children's Trust Fund (FACT) received a $20,000 grant award from The Allstate Foundation to conduct financial empowerment training to survivors of domestic violence through the "Moving Ahead Through Financial Management Curriculum." FACT also embarked on a joint training effort with the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance entitled, “Changing Our View of Sexual Violence: A Community Response to Prevention.” The joint training effort, which took place in May 2012, provided approximately 300 family violence service providers with information on primary sexual violence prevention, an examination of best practices that address forms of sexual violence, and a discussion on ways communities can collaborate to prevent sexual violence.
• The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) brought awareness to the issues of domestic and sexual violence and their impact on victims. The OAG, in conjunction with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, hosted a two-day training on implementing a victim-centered approach to investigating and prosecuting sexual violence cases. The OAG also held a blanket and pillow drive during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) to provide new blankets and pillows to the Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence for the use of incoming shelter residents and their children during and after their stay in the shelter.
• The Department of Health (VDH) conducted four workshops and a train-the-trainer session on Project RADAR, resulting in 30 new trainers and nearly 200 health care professionals trained in the RADAR method for intimate partner violence screening. Educational materials were disseminated statewide to all community health centers, free clinics, and campus health centers. In addition, VDH continued the groundbreaking work of Project Connect, 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 2012, two Project Connect train-the-trainer sessions were held, certifying 25 family planning providers and 13 home visitors to facilitate Project Connect workshops locally. An additional 14 workshops were held with a total of 211 participants. It is estimated that participants in these training sessions have the ability to reach 83,299 unduplicated patients and 1,117 clients, respectively, annually.
• The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (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 2012, three Virginia campuses joined The Red Flag Campaign as “Partner Campuses.” The Action Alliance also re-launched the Building Healthy Futures Fund to sustain and expand prevention efforts across the state by creating a shared revenue between the Action Alliance and its member sexual and domestic violence agencies.
• The Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) contributed information to the 2012 Annual Report for the first time this year. In 2012, DOC continued its work statewide to meet the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). DOC also continued its work within the state prison system to provide programs for inmates who are victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as for inmates who are domestic and sexual violence offenders. Through its Victim Services Unit, DOC worked closely with victims of offenders under its custody to provide a range of services, including victim registration and notification, offender status and location information, offender release plans, victim awareness education, and impact of crime education for offenders.
• The Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council (CASC) provided training to hundreds of prosecutors across the Commonwealth on issues related to domestic violence and sexual assault through both large statewide trainings and smaller topic-specific trainings. 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. At its Spring Institute and Summer Conference, CASC offered topic-specific training on human trafficking, handling cases involving defendants suffering from combat related trauma, long-term family abuse, the use of therapy dogs to help traumatized victims, and strategies for preventing witness intimidation.
• The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), with funding through the Virginia Partnership for Community Defined Solutions to Violence Against Women (CDS), continued to work directly with Virginia communities to establish domestic violence related local or regional fatality review teams. The goal of these teams is to enable localities to thoroughly examine the dynamics and circumstances associated with domestic violence related death in order to identify and implement prevention strategies and improve the community’s overall response to domestic violence. In 2012, OCME worked to design a web-based data collection tool and report system to facilitate the work of the local teams. A total of 17 local or regional teams currently exist.
• The Virginia Center on Aging (VCoA) was part of a collaborative effort among nine statewide agencies and nine Bristol and Washington County agencies that was awarded funding by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), United States Department of Justice, through its 2012 Enhanced Training and Services to End Violence Against and Abuse of Women Later in Life Program. This three-year initiative, Virginia Elder Justice Training and Services, will be administered by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
• The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) completed comprehensive revisions to two law enforcement model policies: one on the law enforcement response to domestic violence, and one on the law enforcement response to sexual assault. DCJS continued to promote best practices for sexual assault response teams (SART) across the Commonwealth.
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 2013, 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) Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, "Domestic Violence Services in Virginia – VAdata Report 2011" (2012).
(*2) Information from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Virginia Department of Health. The number for domestic violence homicides in 2011 is current as of December 2012. This number may change, however, as some cases from 2011 remain under investigation.
(*3) Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, "Domestic Violence Services in Virginia – VAdata Report 2011" (2012).
(*4) Information provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia.