The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


January 2012

Special Thanks to supportive of our bills regarding strangulation.

Delegate Charniele Herring:

I want to thank you for the great speech you gave at the General Assembly about the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia.  As both the leader of a local center serving central Virginia and a Governing Body member of the Action Alliance, I appreciate the recognition you gave our work and your knowledge of the extent of what we really do.   The staff, boards, volunteers, interns, and members here at RCASA and at the Action Alliance appreciate all that you do as an individual and a delegate to support our work to help support survivors of violence. 

Senator Mark Herring:

I want to thank you for your support of the issues important to those serving survivors of sexual and domestic violence and stalking.  We appreciate your support of the Action Alliance license plate bill that will provide another funding source for our local centers.  Your support of the bills dealing with strangulation and firearms prohibitions related to domestic violence criminal convictions and equal protections for sexual and domestic violence victims is also an important effort for us and the safety of our community. 

Lobby for Sexual and Domestic Violence Services and Funding

2012 Preliminary Legislative Agenda


  1. 1.      Protect funding for core safety and crisis services for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The Action Alliance will be closely monitoring the state budget process to ensure that funding for core crisis and safety services for victims of domestic and sexual violence is protected from cuts.  Funding for crisis and safety services support emergency shelter and transportation, hotlines, court advocacy, and counseling.

  1. 2.      Establish a “Building Healthy Futures Fund” to support efforts to prevent sexual and domestic violence.  Support legislation to create a special interest license plate, “Peace Begins at Home.”

Virginia’s Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocacy Agencies are engaged in a wide variety of prevention efforts across the state to reduce risk factors and promote healthy communities and relationships and they are struggling to fund those initiatives.  In order to sustain and expand prevention efforts—with the ultimate goal of reducing the incidence and prevalence of both sexual and domestic violence, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance is launching the Building Healthy Futures Fund.   For more information on the Building Healthy Futures Fund or pre-ordering a “Peace Begins at Home” plate, please visit

  1. 3.      Preserve access to services for ALL victims of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia regardless of immigration status.

The Action Alliance is opposed to any legislation that will hinder the ability of victims of sexual and domestic violence to access services needed to escape and/or address violence because of immigration status, including crisis intervention, emergency transportation, shelter, and advocacy services offered by Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies.  Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault already face tremendous barriers to reporting and seeking help.  When victims perceive that law enforcement is to be feared rather than trusted, it undercuts community policing and efforts to enhance victim/witness cooperation in criminal investigations and prosecutions to hold perpetrators accountable.  We oppose any legislation that threatens access to safety, including but not limited to, services provided by law enforcement, the courts, crisis services, and protections made available through the Violence Against Women Act.   

  1. 4.      Campus Sexual Assault

The Action Alliance has been closely monitoring the State Crime Commission’s study of House Bill 2490, which relates to law enforcement response to sexual assaults that occur on campus.  Our organization will support legislation that requires notification and collaboration between campuses and communities when there has been a sexual assault reported by a student.  The model legislation we have offered is consistent with the best practices promoted by the Action Alliance and allied partners across the state.

  1. 5.      Protective Orders

In 2011, the Action Alliance served on the Governor’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board.  Our agency will support legislation, recommended by the Board, that would allow for the extension of “permanent” protective orders issued in the Circuit Court and require Circuit Court clerks to submit protective orders to law enforcement by the end of the business day on which they are issued.

Last year, the General Assembly overhauled Virginia’s civil protective order process to provide equal access and equal protections to victims of stalking, dating violence and sexual assault.  The Action Alliance will continue to monitor all legislation related to civil protective orders to ensure that Virginia’s laws continue to protect all victims of sexual and domestic violence.

  1. 6.      Enhanced Penalties for Strangulation

During the work of the Governor’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board, there were discussions about the challenges to prosecuting acts of strangulation in Virginia.  As a result, the Governor is introducing legislation that creates an enhanced penalty for acts of strangulation committed against a family or household member.  The Action Alliance has concerns about the narrow application of the legislation (recognizing that strangulation is an act that occurs commonly in dating violence and during a sexual assault).  The Action Alliance will continue to monitor this legislation and advocate that any revisions to the Code protect all victims of sexual and domestic violence.    

For more information contact Kristine Hall or Gena Boyle at 804-377-0335 or email or

Please join The Action Alliance for a breakfast reception on Wednesday, January 25 from 9:30-11:30am in 7 West during our Legislative Advocacy Day!

NSVRC Releases New Prevention Report

The NSVRC has released the Prevention Assessment Year 2 Report: Innovations in Prevention.   This report was prepared for the NSVRC by Stephanie M. Townsend, PhD.   Additionally PreventConnect provided additional support to augment the assessment and include an examination of how innovations diffuse.

 This second phase of the NSVRC’s Prevention Assessment project focused on interviews with innovative prevention programs and a diffusion survey to document how innovations have spread throughout the sexual violence prevention field.  The emphasis of this assessment was on how programs are thinking about primary prevention and the processes that allowed innovation to develop.  This report contains findings from that assessment.

Podcasts conducted by PreventConnect with some of the programs interviewed for the report can be found in the following link:

The Year 1 report of the Prevention Assessment Project, released in 2011, can be found here.

If you have question about this report or the prevention assessment project, please contact

*Note: reposted from

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) has published it’s survey on sexual violence and intimate partner violence.   The continuing incidents yearly, monthly, daily, and every minute may shock you.  They found that on average: 

24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.

Annually that equals more than 12 million women and men.

More than 1 million women are raped in a year and over 6 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year.

These findings emphasize that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are important and widespread public health problems in the United States.  This would be considered an epidemic if a disease. 

 NISVS is an on¬going, nationally representative survey that assesses experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among adult women and men in the United States. It measures lifetime victimization for these types of violence as well as victimization in the 12 months prior to the survey. The survey goes beyond counting acts of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence by assessing the range of violence experienced by victims and the impact of that victimization. The report also includes the first ever simultaneous national and state-level prevalence estimates of these forms of violence for all states.

 Findings from the 2010 Summary Report will be available online

Peace Begins at Home license plate

The Virginia Sexual and domestic Violence Action Alliance, with its member Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocacy Agencies, establishes a new fund to support statewide and local efforts to prevent sexual and domestic violence.

The “Peace Begins at Home” Special Interest License Plate is the first initiative of the Building Healthy Futures Fund. To order a special interest license plate: go to: h…ttp:// to download your license plate application. (make sure when filling out application to check the box for special interest and write Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance for organization name.) Write check made out to “Action Alliance” for $25(non-personalized) or $35 for personalized license plate.

Legislate for: Enhanced Penalties for Family Violence in the Presence of Minors

The Risks and Unintended Consequences


Society often looks for ways to offer greater protection for children who witness family violence.  One remedy that is frequently proposed is enhanced penalties for assault and battery against a family or household member when a child is present.  While on the surface this would seem to be an appropriate solution, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance has concerns that such an enhancement puts children at greater risk of physical and emotional harm and has other unintended consequences.

Enhanced Penalties put Children at Greater Risk

  • To prove h/she present, the child may be required to testify against a parent or other adult in the home, putting the child in the middle of an already volatile situation.
  • If a child testifies against the offender, the offender and in some instances the non-offending parent may retaliate against the child, putting the child’s safety at risk.
  • If the child is afraid of the offender, and/or does not want to testify against a parent or loved one, s/he may feel that it is necessary to perjure him/herself in order to protect the family.
  • The offender, non-offending parent or others may blame the child for the enhanced penalty (jail time or fine) and therefore the child may blame him/herself for the violence and effect of the penalty on the family.


Actions Requested by VSDVAA

Below are three alternatives to enhancing penalties or creating a misdemeanor for when a minor is present during an assault and battery of a family or household member:

  • Support increased funding and availability of services for children and teens who witness and/or are impacted by family abuse.  This could include services in domestic violence programs, child advocacy centers and supervised visitation centers.
  • When preparing the pre-sentencing report, include information about the presence of a minor during the incident and the impact of the violence on the child or teen.
  • During the sentencing phase, consider the impact of the violence on the minor.


For more information, contact Stacy Ruble at Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (VSDVAA) at:  804-377-0335 or

reposted from the Action Alliance website:

Advocate for Written Policies for Law Enforcement on Responding to Sexual Violence

What is the issue?

Law enforcement officers play a critical role in responding to cases of sexual violence.  They may be among the first people that a victim talks to after the assault, and the victim’s experience in that interaction may determine her or his decision to move forward on reporting the crime and cooperating with prosecution.  In addition, law enforcement officers are responsible for the collection of evidence, the victim interview, the follow-up investigation and the interrogation of the alleged offender.  Unless this duty is handled comprehensively, thoroughly and consistently, there is the risk that key evidence will be missed, tainted or lost, hampering prosecution of sexual offenses.

Due to the complexity, trauma, and potential physical injury involved in a sexual assault, a consistent and comprehensive law enforcement response is critical to a victim’s safety, health and well-being.  Clear knowledge and understanding of sexual assault will also assist in thorough and accurate evidence collection, assisting prosecution of alleged offenders.  However, Virginia does not require law enforcement agencies to have a written policy on responding to situations in which sexual violence has occurred.  As a result, law enforcement response to sexual violence is often inconsistent in different parts of the state and even, at times, within jurisdictions.

A recent survey by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) showed that 49% of responding agencies did not have a written policy on responding to sexual violence situations.  This survey also demonstrated numerous inconsistencies across jurisdictions regarding such issues as use of polygraphs on victims and offenders, when and how Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) are authorized, how often officers are trained on sexual violence issues, and collaboration with other agencies in responding to sexual offenses.

Legislation is already in place requiring written policies for responding to situations of domestic violence (§ 19.2-81.4).  The response to sexual violence should be held to the same standard.

What does VSDVAA want to do?

VSDVAA wants to work with the General Assembly and DCJS to enact legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to establish and implement written policies on responding to situations in which sexual violence has occurred.  This legislation would not require each law enforcement agency to establish the same policies and procedures, but it would require specific factors that each agency’s procedures must include.

What is our goal?

Sexual assault continues to be one of the most underreported crimes in Virginia and in the nation.  Enhancing law enforcement response and ensuring consistent and appropriate response within and across jurisdictions may increase a victim’s willingness to come forward and make a report.  Consistent and thorough evidence collection will also lead to increased prosecutions and convictions, and will ultimately lead to safer communities.

For more information, contact Jennifer Woolley at VSDVAA

434-979-9002      866-3-VSDVAA

reposted from the Action Alliance website: 

Stalking: Know it, Name it, Stop it

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime that affects

3.4 million victims a year.

1 This year’s theme—“Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.”—challenges the nation to fight this dangerous crime by learning more about it.

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal justice professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact. In one of five cases, stalkers use weapons to harm or threaten victims,

2 and stalking is one of the significant risk factors for femicide (homicide of women) in abusive relationships.

3 Victims suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population, and many lose time from work or have to move as a result of their victimization.

4Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause that person fear. Stalking may take many forms, such as assaults, threats, vandalism, burglary, or animal abuse, as well as unwanted cards, calls, gifts, or visits. One in four victims reports that the stalker uses technology, such as computers, global positioning system devices, or hidden cameras, to track the victim’s daily activities.

5 Stalkers fit no standard psychological profile, and many stalkers follow their victims from one jurisdiction to another, making it difficult for authorities to investigate and prosecute their crimes.

Communities that understand stalking, however, can support victims and combat the crime.

If more people learn to recognize stalking, we have a better chance to protect victims and prevent tragedies.

Your local rape crisis or domestic violence center can offer information, resources, or help.

For additional resources to help promote National Stalking Awareness Month, please visit  and 

1 Baum et al.,

Stalking Victimization in the United States

, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,

Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009, (accessed September 29, 2009).

2 Ibid.

3 Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multi-site Case Control Study,”

American Journal of Public Health

93 (2003): 7.

4 Ibid.

5 Baum,

Stalking Victimization in the United States.

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