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The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence

Month

July 2011

Historic Victory for Victims of Interpersonal Violence

In a landmark recommendation this past week, the nation’s leading panel of scientists agreed that every woman should have access to screening for domestic and intimate partner violence within her health coverage.  For several years, domestic violence and sexual assault agencies and coalitions; most notably – Futures Without Violence, have advocated for routine screening and assessment to help women who have been sexually and physically abused, prevent further violence, and improve the health of millions across the country.  Finally we are here! 

This recommendation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) sends a strong message about the benefits of health care interventions for women.  Futures Without Violence has been a leader in an extensive effort to gather relevant research to support screening, coordinate advocacy groups to support the need, and work with members of Congress and to promote the issue.

The IOM determined that rates of violence are significant, and the data they reviewed confirmed that women can be helped by screening and counseling. As one of the Committee members stated, screening “can lead to positive interventions.”

Leaders are calling this one of the biggest advances for women’s health in a generation and clearly it is THE biggest health policy advancement related to domestic violence.  

Guidelines based on the IOM recommendations will be issued by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sebelius by August 2nd to determine coverage of preventive health care screenings and care for women with no additional copayments or deductibles.  Other IOM recommendations included coverage for a full range of reproductive health services including contraception. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans will be required to cover the services recommended by HHS. Through this coverage, and with training for health care providers Futures Without Violence offers, we have the opportunity to improve the health and lives of thousands of abused women and children. 

Click here to see the report brief and full report.  To see our statement, please click here

Futures Without Violence
100 Montgomery Street, The Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129-1718
tel: 415.678.5500 | fax: 415-529-2930

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The Continuum of Sexual Abuse

Many people ask what are the definitions of sexual violence/abuse.  Today’s column focuses on identifying what is sexual abuse/violence, rape, and coercion.

The Continuum of Sexual Abuse

Abuse of Sexuality is harassment that occurs when somebody does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes or being punished through the use of sex.

Witness Activity is showing a child pornographic materials and unwanted exposure to one or more other people engaging in sexual behavior.

Advances/Seduction is unwanted sexual advances and situations in which seductive dynamics are disguised or confusing.

Coercion is being pressured into participating in unwanted sexual activity.

Physical manipulation is placing a child’s hand on another person’s genitals or other body location(s) that stimulate a response and touching a child’s genitals or other body locations.

Sexual Invasion(coerced or forced) is the insertion or penetration of any orifice of a child’s body with a penis, finger, or an object of any sort and may involve the use of weapons, alcohol, drugs, etc.

Institutionally sanctioned sexual contact is the overt or covert sexual contact by anyone representing or perceived to be representing an institution, this may include agencies that are caretaking, religious, recreational, educational, etc.

This list was supplied by Jim Struve, LCSW at the National Sexual Assault Forum being held this week in Alexandria, Virginia

New Protective Orders in Virginia

Starting July 1, 2011, Virginia has made some changes to its Protective Order Laws (HB 2063/SB 1222).  These changes were made to simplify the protective order process in Virginia; provide equal access to Protective Orders for victims of sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence; and to provide equal protections through court/law enforcement response to violations of protective orders for victims of sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.   These changes are:

Changes to Family Abuse Protective Orders: The definition of Family Abuse has now been revised to specifically include stalking and sexual assault within the definition.  There have also been changes in the relief provisions.  The new definition of Family Abuse is:  “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury and that is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member.  Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault in violation of Article 7 (& 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury. 

Changes in Family Abuse EPO, PPO, PO-Relief Provisions:  prohibits acts of family abuse “or criminal offenses that result in injury to person or property.”  Additionally, prohibits such contacts “by the respondent with the petitioner or family or household members of the petitioner” as the court deems “necessary for the health and safety of such persons.”

Changes to Acts of Violence Protective Orders: acts of violence or “behaviors” will be same as that of the new definition of family abuse, added the elimination of warrant requirement, applies the Law Enforcement Response for violations: “Pro-Arrest” provisions, and the 34rd or subsequent violation = Class 6 Felony.

There are new definitions of Acts of Violence, Force or Threat: that states, “Acts of violence, force or threat” means any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.  Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault in violation of Article 7 (&18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury.

Changes to Acts of Violence – Eligibility: deletion of references to specific acts, such as sexual battery, aggravated sexual batter, serious bodily injury, and stalking and replaced with references to “act of violence, force or threat” and the removal of warrant requirement.

Changes to Acts of Violence: EPO – Grounds.  Here Law Enforcement or the Victim asserts that there has been an *Act of violence, force or threat and on that assertion, the magistrate finds that there is probably danger of a further such act being committed by the Perpetrator against the alleged victim or a petition or warrant for the arrest of the Perpetrator has been issued for any criminal offense resulting form the commission of an act of violence, force, or threat. 

Changes to Acts of Violence: PPO-Grounds.  Here a petition alleging the petitioner is or has been subjected to an act of violence, force or threat or a petition or warrant for the arrest of the Perpetrator has been issued for any criminal offense resulting from the commission of an act of violence, force, or threat and may be issued ex parte upon good cause shown.  The immediate and present danger of any act of violence, force or threat or evidence sufficient to establish probably cause that an act of violence, force, or threat has recently occurred shall constitute good cause. 

Changes to Acts of Violence: PO-Grounds. Here, a petition, warrant or conviction for any criminal offense resulting from the commission of an act of violence, force or threat has been established and a hearing held pursuant to subsection D of &19.2-152.9 (PPO Statute). 

Acts of Violence EPO, PPOs, PO – Relief Provisions: prohibits acts of violence, force or threat or criminal offenses resulting in injury to persons or property; prohibit such contacts by the Perpetrator with the alleged victims or such victim’s family/household members as the judge/magistrate deems necessary to protect the safety of such persons and such other conditions as the judge/magistrate deems necessary to prevent (i) acts of violence, force or threat, (ii) criminal offense resulting in injury to person or property or (iii) communication or contact of any kind by the Perpetrator. 

Court/Law Enforcement Response to Violations of Acts of Violence Protective Orders: makes consistent misdemeanor and felony penalties for violations of Family Abuse Pos and violations of non-Family Abuse Pos.; pro-arrest measure of violations of Pos or &18.2-57.2 will be added to violations of Acts of Violence PO; Law enforcement may request an extension of an Acts of Violence EPO, not to exceed 3 days, for a victim who I physically or mentally incapable of filing a petition for a preliminary or permanent protective order.

This is a lot to take in!  So to Recap:  These changes creates one standard for getting protections for victims of family abuse and for victims of other acts of violence, including sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.  It removes the criminal warrant requirement for the protective order issued by the General District Court, and adds enhanced penalties for violation of the protective order issued by the General District Court so that the penalties are the same as those for violating the Family Abuse Protective Order.  Additionally, it requires law enforcement to make an arrest for violation of a protective order issued by the General District Court (Pro-Arrest provision). 

If you need further information, please call the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance at 804-377-0335 and ask to speak to Gena Boyle.

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