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The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence

Month

January 2011

Lobby Day for Sexual and Domestic Violence Victims

Today is lobby day for our industry.  I’m heading down to the General Assembly to advocate.  I like doing  this every year.  The energy of everyone running around, trying to get appointments in, trying to meet people, trying to educate legislators and their staff on our issues.  This year it’s:

Protect funding for sexual and domestic violence services from further cuts.  In the past year, Virginia cut funding for sexual violence services by 5%, domestic violence services by 8%, and homlessness intervention services by 8%.  We need to protect and preserve these critical services.

2. Support: HB 2422 & SB 1364 – Expand access to Protective Orders for victims of dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault.  Address and name dating violence in the Code of Virginia and allow equal access to court-ordered protection for all victims of certain defined acts of violence and threatening behaviors, to prevent further acts of violence, trespass, or contact.

3.  Support: HB 1757 & SB 1199 – Extend the Address Confidentiality Program within the Office of the Attorney General to make it statewide.

4.  Oppose HB 1420, HB 1421, HB 1430, HB 1934 & HB 2332 – Oppose legislation that threatens acces to safety for any victim of sexual and domestic violence.  Oppose these house bills and preserve access to services for ALL victims of sexual and domestic violence in Virgnia, regardless of their immigration status.

Victims of sexual and domestic violence and their children must be able to access safety, including law enforcement, the courts and protections available through the Violence Against Women Act, without regard to their immigration status.

Support: HB 1476 & SB 1145 – extend limitations period for actions for sexual abuse committed during teh infancy or incapacity of the abused person from two years to 8 years from the time of removal from infancy or incapacity or from the time the cause of action otherwise occurs.

Support HB 1893 – Abduction; provides that any person who, without legal justification or excuse, recruits, entices, solicits, seizes, takes, transport, detains a child under 16 years of age, for the purpose of concubinage or prostitution, is guilty of a Class 2 felony, and that the person who assists or aids in such activity or threatens to do so is guilty of a Class 5 felony, and that the abduction of any person 16 years of age or older for the person of concubinage or prostitution is punishable as a Class 4 felony.  The bill also provides that any person who causes another person to engage in forces labor or services in violation of abduction laws is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

Support HB 1898 – Commercial Sex Acts with Minors; expands teh definition of abduction to include commercial sexual activity involving minors and for purposes of sexual activity with a minor to also include pornography and sexual performances.

Support HB 2440 – Provides for an affirmative defense to the crime of prostitution when the person arrested or charged was induced to engage in prostitution through the use of force, intimidation, or deception by another.  The bill also provides for the expungement of a prostitution charge when the person was induced to engage in prostitution through the use of force, intimidation, or deception by another.

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Stalking Assistance Programs in Virginia: The Haven

The Haven
This Virginian 24-hour shelter details Virginia stalking legislation and the emergency options available to a victim.  Their phone number is 1-800-22-HAVEN.

The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc. is committed to preventing and eliminating all types of domestic violence and sexual assault within our service area, which includes Westmoreland, Richmond, Essex, Lancaster and Northumberland Counties. The primary focus of The Haven’s mission is to provide advocacy and shelter for identified victims of partner abuse and sexual assault as well as to provide support services to victims and their families. To greater further its mission, The Haven seeks to enhance public awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking through community outreach and education.

Stalking is a Crime in Virginia

Stalking is a crime.

In Virginia, stalking is defined as repeated conduct which places a person, or his or her family, in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.

The stalking law went into effect on July 1, 1992.

In 1998, the penalties associated with convictions were increased. A first conviction carries a penalty of not more than one year in jail and a $2,500 fine (Class 1 misdemeanor).  The penalty for a third or subsequent conviction within five years is not more than five years in prisonand a $2,500 fine (Class 6 felony).

Stalking is a unique crime, because stalkers are obsessed with controlling their victims’ actions and feelings. Stalkers will frequently threaten and harass, and in many instances will actually physically injure their victims. Stalking is a crime that can be committed against anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.

Facts:

• 1.4 million people are stalked annually.

• Only one half of stalking cases are reported to authorities, and 25% receive a restraining order.•

1 in 20 women will be stalked in their lifetimes.

• 79% of women know their stalkers; 50% were in anintimate relationship with their stalker; 80% of theserelationships were abusive.

*Statistics supplied by the National Institute of Justice

CODE OF VIRGINIA18.2 – 60.3

STALKING PENALTY

A. Any person who on more than one occasion engages in conduct directed at another person with the intent to place, or with the knowledge that the conduct places, that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person’s family or household member shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. A third or subsequent conviction occurring within five years of a conviction for an offense under this section or for a similar offense under the law of any otherjurisdiction shall be a Class 6 felony.

C. A person may be convicted under this section irrespective of the jurisdiction or jurisdictions within the Commonwealth wherein the conduct described in subsection A occurred, if the person engaged in that conduct on at least one occasion in the jurisdiction where the person is tried. Evidence of any such conduct which occurred outside the Commonwealth may be admissible, if relevant, in any prosecution under thissection provided that the prosecution is based upon conduct occurring within the Commonwealth.

The Code of Virginia also provides that:

•Upon conviction for stalking, the court must issue an order prohibiting contact between the defendant and the victim or the victim’s family or household member. (18.2-60.3D)

• The Department of Corrections, sheriff or regional jail director must notify, prior to release of an inmate, any victim of the offense who, in writing, requests notice,or any person designated in writing by the victim, provided the inmate was sentenced to a term of incarceration of at least forty-eight hours. The responsibleagency above must also give notice, if an inmate escapes. (18.2-60.3E)

• Persons subject to protective orders may not purchase or transport any firearms. (18.2-308.1:4)

Virginia’s 2011 Legislative Action Day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 – is Legislative Action Day.  Join the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance as they promote important legislative items during the General Assembly session.  

Please join with the Action Alliance and your local rape crisis and domestic violence centers to contact your local legislators about the issues below: 

1. Protect funding for sexual and domestic violence services from further cuts.  In the past year, Virginia cut funding for sexual violence services by 5%, domestic violence services by 8%, and homlessness intervention services by 8%.  We need to protect and preserve these critical services.

2. Expand access to Protective Orders for victims of dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault.  Address and name dating violence in the Code of Virginia and allow equal access to court-ordered protection for all victims of certain defined acts of violence and threatening behaviors, to prevent further acts of violence, trespass, or contact. 

3.  Extend the Address Confidentiality Program within the Office of the Attorney General to make it statewide.

4.  Preserve access to services for ALL victims of sexual and domestic violence in Virgnia, regardless of their immirgration status.  Victims of sexual and domestic violence and their children must be able to access safety, including law enforcement, the courts and protections availalbe through the Violence Against Women Act, without regard to their immigration status. 

If you have any questions, please contact Kristine Hall at khall@vsdvalliance.org  or Gena Boyle at gboyle@vsdvalliance.org  or call 804-377-0335.

National Stalking Awareness Month

January is National Stalking Awareness Month

Do you know what constitutes stalking?  Stalking is a behavior in which an individual willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly engages in a knowing course of conduct directed at a specific person which reasonably and seriously alarms, torments, or terrorizes the person.  Stalking creates fear.

Many people do not realize the clear link between sexual assault and stalking.  The Stalking Resource Center has done research that clearly and methodically developed the link between the two crimes. They have found in their research and victim testimony the stalking behaviors utilized by offenders.  What has been found is that offenders routinely engage in following, surveillance, information gathering and voyeurism prior to a sexual assault. After an assault, the rapist frequently threatens the victim, attempts to frame the incident (e.g. thinks and talks about the incident as if it were consensual), and maintains social contact.

Thirty-one percent of women stalked by a current or former intimate partner are also sexually assaulted by that partner. The Stalking Resource Center has found that the typical offender/rapist, (stranger and non-stranger), premeditates and plans his attack and uses multiple strategies to make the victim vulnerable such as alcohol or increasing levels of violence. FBI research with incarcerated offenders revealed that the offenders picked victims based on observation (voyeurism) and stalked several women at a time waiting for an opportunity to commit a sexual assault.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics completed the Largest Study of Stalking Conducted to Date.  They recently released a supplemental report to the National Crime Victimization Survey focused on Stalking Victimization in the United States. This study confirms that stalking is pervasive, that women are at higher risk of being stalked, and there is a dangerous intersection between stalking and more violent crimes.

 What to Do if You are Stalked 

 

Get Help. Report to law enforcement and file criminal charges and/or obtain a protective order.  Request that law enforcement agencies log your complaint each time you call and Request a copy of your report.

Tell your stalker to stop. Have a registered letter to the stalker stating that he/she must stop the behavior immediately.

Tell someone. Do not attempt to deal with the situation alone. Tell a friend or family member about the stalking and document the stalker’s behavior. List date, time, place, what happened, any witnesses, and give a copy of the information to a friend or relative for safekeeping.

Develop a support system. Keep in touch with friends who are supportive and understanding. Give friends, co-workers, relatives, and neighbors a description of the stalker. Ask them to watch for the stalker, document everything they see, and give a written account to you.

Never underestimate the stalker’s potential for violence. Take all threats seriously. Not all threats are verbal; some nonverbal threats may be the sending of unwanted notes, cards, or gifts.

Do not attempt to communicate with the stalker at all. The stalker may misinterpret this communication as a form of encouragement.

 

Screen your calls: Have emergency numbers readily available. Remember to keep your cell phone charged and to have it with you at all times.

If you are being followed, go to a safe area, DO NOT DRIVE HOME. Drive to the nearest police station or a busy place. Use your horn to attract attention.

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