The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence



V-Word Radio Show: The Link between mass shootings and domestic violence.

Emily Westerholm visits the link between mass shootings and domestic violence.

You can listen to the show here


WRIR 97.3 FM

National Network to End Domestic Violence

Virginia Domestic and Sexual Violence Action Alliance

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The V Word: Sexual Assault and Addiction

Today Carol talks about the link between sexual assault and addiction.

You can listen to the show here


WRIR 97.3 LP FM 

Sexual Assault Resources 

Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance

YWCA of Richmond  

Recovery Resources

McShin Foundation 

Richmond Behavioral Health Authority 

Substance Abuse Addiction and Recovery Alliance

Repost from VSDVAA: Legislative Update – 2015 Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly regular session ended on February 28, 2015. Below is an update on the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance’s (Action Alliance) priorities and other key legislation of interest to our constituency. Legislation that has passed must still be approved by the Governor and may be subject to additional amendments. In most cases, the Governor has until March 29th to act on the legislation. The Governor’s amendments and vetoed legislation will be considered by the General Assembly during the reconvened session in April.

When available, we have noted the Action Alliance’s position on the legislation. For actual votes and language of the bills, please click on the link provided. Please note that we only provided links to legislation that is still active. Unless noted in the law, legislation becomes effective July 1, 2015.


Crime Commission—Sexual and Domestic Violence Study

SB1094 (Chief Patron: Sen. Howell)
HB2092 (Chief Patron: Del. Peace; Chief Co-Patron McClellan)
Supported by the Action Alliance. Establishes the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Professional Standards Committee and requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to administer its activities by providing technical assistance and administrative support. This Committee is tasked with establishing voluntary accreditation standards and procedures by which local sexual and domestic violence programs can be systematically measured and evaluated with a peer-reviewed process. An Advisory Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence is also established and has the responsibility for advising and assisting state and local entities on matters related to the prevention and reduction of sexual and domestic violence and to promote the efficient administration of grant funds.

Campus Response

SB712 (Chief Patron: Senator Black; Chief Co-Patrons: Senators Deeds, Saslaw, & Barker)
HB1930 (Chief Patron: Delegate Bell; Chief Co-Patrons: Delegates Albo & Gilbert)
Supported by the Action Alliance.
Requires any responsible employee of a public or private nonprofit institution of higher education who in the course of his employment obtains information that an act of sexual violence has been committed against a student or on campus property or other property related to the institution to report such information to the Title IX coordinator for the institution as soon as practicable. The bill provides several exceptions to the reporting requirements, including when information is obtained through any communication considered privileged under state or federal law, including communications received by licensed health care professionals, counselors, accredited rape crisis or domestic violence counselors, campus victim support personnel, clergy, or attorneys.

The Title IX Coordinator must report such information to a review committee, which shall meet within 72 hours of the receipt of information of an alleged act of sexual violence. The review committee shall include the Title IX coordinator, a representative of law enforcement, and a student affairs representative and conduct its review in compliance with federal privacy laws that protect student privacy. The Title IX Coordinator must disclose information regarding the alleged act of sexual violence, including personally identifiable information, to the law-enforcement agency responsible for investigating the alleged act if the Title IX Coordinator determines such disclosure is necessary to protect the health and safety of the community.

The bill requires the governing board of each public or private institution of higher education to (i) establish a written memorandum of understanding with a local sexual assault crisis center or other victim support service and (ii) adopt policies to provide victims with information on contacting such center or service.

The bill also provides that each institution shall ensure that a victim of an alleged act of sexual violence is informed of (i) the applicable federal or state confidentiality provisions that govern information provided by a victim; (ii) the available on-campus resources and any unaffiliated community resources, including sexual assault crisis centers, domestic violence crisis centers, or other victim support services; (iii) the importance of seeking appropriate medical attention; (iv) the importance of collection and preservation of evidence; (v) the available law-enforcement options for investigation and prosecution; (vi) the available options for a protective order; (vii) the available campus options for investigation and adjudication under the institution’s policies; and (viii) the victim’s rights to participate or decline to participate in any investigation to the extent permitted under state or federal law.

HB1785 (Chief Patron: Delegate Massie; Co-Chief Patron: Delegate Filler-Corn).
Supported by the Action Alliance. Requires that mutual aid agreements between a campus police force and a law-enforcement agency contain provisions requiring either the campus police force or the agency with which it has established a mutual aid agreement to notify the local attorney for the Commonwealth within 48 hours of any investigation involving felony criminal sexual assault occurring on campus property or other property related to the institution of higher education. The bill does not require law enforcement to disclose the victims’ personally identifying information. The bill also requires institutions of higher education that have security departments instead of campus police forces to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a law-enforcement agency and such memorandum of understanding shall contain similar provisions requiring reports to the local attorney for the Commonwealth.

SB1193 (Chief Patron: Senator Norment; Co-Chief Patron Senator Deeds)
Requires the registrar of certain public and private institutions of higher education, or the other employee, office, or department of the institution that is responsible for maintaining student academic records, to include a prominent notation on the transcript of each student who has been suspended for, has been permanently dismissed for, or withdraws from the institution while under investigation for a violation of the institution’s code, rules, or set of standards governing student conduct. The bill provides that any notation due to a student’s suspension shall be removed if the student completed the term of the suspension and any conditions thereof and has been determined by the institution to be in good standing. The bill exempts the Virginia Military Institution (VMI).

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault/Stalking/Protective Orders

SB941 (Chief Patron: Senator Stuart)/HB2329 (Chief Patron: Delegate Simon)
Supported by the Action Alliance. Provides for the compensation of counsel or a guardian ad litem for the required representation of a respondent in a proceeding for the issuance of a protective order under Chapter 9.1 of Title 19.2.

HB2120 (Chief Patron: Delegate Cline)
Supported by the Action Alliance. Adds strangulation to the list of crimes charged for which there is a rebuttable presumption against admission to bail.

SJ245 (Chief Patron: Senator Favola)/HJ600 (Chief Patron: Delegate Kory)
Supported by the Action Alliance. Designates the month of April, in 2015 and in each succeeding year, as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Virginia.

SB1187 (Chief Patron: Senator Obenshain)/HB 1928 (Chief Patron: Delegate Bell)
The bill adds to the list of offenses for which an adult convicted of certain offenses must have a sample of his blood, saliva, or tissue taken for DNA analysis. The bill adds misdemeanor violations of §§ 16.1-253.2 (violation of a protective order), 18.2-60.3 (stalking), 18.2-60.4 (violation of a stalking protective order), 18.2-67.4:1 (infected sexual battery), 18.2-102 (unauthorized use of animal, aircraft, vehicle, or boat valued at less than $200), 18.2-121 (entering property of another for purpose of damaging it), 18.2-387 (indecent exposure), 18.2-387.1 (obscene sexual display), and 18.2-479.1 (resisting arrest). Under current law, a sample is taken for DNA analysis from adults convicted of only five misdemeanor sex offenses: (i) § 18.2-67.4 (sexual battery), (ii) § 18.2-67.4:2 (sexual abuse of a child 13 years of age or older but under 15), (iii) § 18.2-67.5 (attempted sexual battery), (iv) § 18.2-130 (peeping), or (v) § 18.2-370.6 (penetrating the mouth of a child under 13 with the tongue). The bill also increases the fee collected for the withdrawal of the DNA sample from $25 to $53. The provisions of the bill apply only to persons convicted on or after July 1, 2015.

SB1417 (Chief Patron: Senator Petersen)
Requires any person licensed by the Board of Counseling and operating in a nonhospital setting to post a copy of his license in a conspicuous place. The posting shall also provide clients with (i) the number of the toll-free complaint line at the Department of Health Professions, (ii) the website address of the Department for the purposes of accessing the licensee’s record, and (iii) notice of the client’s right to report to the Department if he believes the licensee may have engaged in unethical, fraudulent, or unprofessional conduct.

HB1558 (Chief Patron: Delegate Rust)
Allows for the creation of local or regional adult fatality review teams upon the initiative of any local or regional law-enforcement agency, department of social services, emergency medical services agency, attorney for the Commonwealth’s office, or community services board. The bill provides that such teams may review the death of any person age 60 years or older, or any adult age 18 years or older who is incapacitated, who resides in the Commonwealth and who is in need of temporary or emergency protective services (i) who was the subject of an adult protective services or law-enforcement investigation; (ii) whose death was due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation or acts suggesting abuse, neglect, or exploitation; or (iii) whose death came under the jurisdiction of or was investigated by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as occurring in any suspicious, unusual, or unnatural manner. A violation of the confidentiality of the review process is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

HB1698 (Chief Patron: Delegate Wilt)
Requires each school board, in any case in a questionnaire or survey requesting that students provide sexual information, mental health information, medical information, information on student health risk behaviors, other information on controlled substance use, or any other information that the school board deems to be sensitive in nature is to be administered, to give the parent 30 days’ written notice of the nature and types of questions, the purposes and age-appropriateness of the questionnaire or survey, how such information will be used, who will have access to such information, the steps that will be taken to protect student privacy, and whether and how any findings or results will be disclosed. The bill gives the parent the right to request that an advance copy of the questionnaire or survey be sent to him, to review the document in person at the school, and to exempt his child from participation. Under current law, (i) such written notice only applies to surveys or questionnaires on sexual information and information on student health risk behaviors, (ii) the detailed contents of the notice only apply to information on student health risk behaviors, and (iii) the parent has the right to review questionnaires and surveys but no right to request that a copy be sent to him.

Human Trafficking

HB2040 (Chief Patron: Delegate Bell)
Supported by the Action Alliance. Increases from a Class 4 felony to a Class 3 felony the penalty for taking a minor, for the purposes of prostitution, into a bawdy place; persuading, encouraging or causing a minor to enter a bawdy place; or taking or causing a minor to be taken to any place for such purposes.

SB1188 (Chief Patron: Senator Obenshain; Chief Co-Patron Senator Edwards)
HB1964 (Chief Patron: Delegate Hugo; Chief Co-Patrons: Delegates Anderson, Rob Bell, and Gilbert)
Supported by the Action Alliance. Creates new felonies for trafficking of persons for commercial sexual activity. The bill provides that any person who solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, or otherwise causes or attempts to cause a person to engage in prostitution with the intent to receive money or other valuable thing or to assist another in receiving money or other valuable thing from the earnings of the solicited person from an act of prostitution is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Felonies are increased if such behavior is done by an adult and the person solicited is a minor (Class 3 felony) and if force, intimidation, or deception is used against the person solicited (Class 4 felony). The new crime was added to the definition of violent felony for the purposes of the sentencing guidelines, predicate criminal acts for street gangs, the Virginia Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, multijurisdiction grand jury, and asset forfeiture and, if a minor is solicited, the Sex Offender Registry. The bill also amends two existing Code sections on receiving money for procuring a person for prostitution and receiving money from the earnings of a person engaged in prostitution to increase penalties if the crime involves a minor.


Funding Increase for Sexual Assault Victim Services

Budget Amendments #389 1s (Senator Vogel) & #389 1h (Chief Patron: Delegate Peace)

Employment Protections for Victims

SB 990 (Chief Patron: Senator Lucas)/HB1945 (Chief Patron: Delegate McClellan)
HB1430 (Chief Patron: Delegate Herring)
HB2150 (Chief Patron: Delegate Yancey)

Firearm Restrictions Related to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking

SB943 (Chief Patron: Senator Favola)/HB 2085 (Chief Patron: Delegate Murphy)
SB909 (Chief Patron: Senator Howell)/HB 2045 (Chief Patron: Delegate Filler-Corn)
HB2328 (Chief Patron: Delegate Simon)


SB1297 (Chief Patron: Senator McEachin)/HB1453 (Chief Patron: Delegate Miller)
HB1902 (Chief Patron: Delegate Lopez)

To learn more about any of these defeated bills, please visit and click on “Bills & Resolutions” to search by bill number.

If you have questions, please contact Kristine Hall at or 804-377-0335.

About the Action Alliance
The Action Alliance has been Virginia’s leading voice on sexual and domestic violence for 30 years and enhances response and prevention efforts through training, public policy advocacy, public awareness programs, and technical assistance to professionals. To find out more about the Action Alliance, call 804.377.0335,, or visit us on the web: You may also call the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238 (v/tty).

The V Word: Prescriptions and Rape on Campus – A Survivor’s Story

Here is today’s broadcast of The V Word.

You can listen to today’s episode here

A survivor’s story came in yesterday. She writes:
pillbottle“I have a hard time sleeping in college, I guess it’s the noise, sharing a room, and the late nights. I had started taking a sleep aid to help me sleep. My friends, of course, knew this as I did not keep it a secret. In fact I would often take it in front of them as I was winding down for the night and before everyone left my room on study or movie nights. It took a few minutes to work and I would take it as people were leaving and I started getting ready for bed. I never felt I was not safe before.
One night though I wasn’t safe. A male friend who had been over watching a movie, stayed behind the others and came back in to my room after the sleeping pill was taking effect and raped me.
I went to the school but it went no where. He stated I asked him to, the school stated it was my word against his and I had let him over to be in my room in the first place. It was implied I led him on by taking the pills.
I had to see him on campus, I had to change my classes because he was in two of them. I finally dropped out and returned home because I got too depressed to study and my grades started dropping.”

She is not alone and as listeners are aware, rape on college campuses is finally a national topic of conversation.
Findings from a report by Fisher, B.S., Cullen, F.T., & Turner, M.G. (2000). The Sexual Victimization of College Women. National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. include:

  • It is estimated that the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions may be between 20% and 25% over the course of a college career.
  • Among college women, 9 in 10 victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender.
    Almost 12.8% of completed rapes, 35% of attempted rapes, and 22.9% of threatened rapes happened during a date.
  • 2.8% experienced either a completed rape (1.7%) or an attempted rape (1.1%) during the six-month period in which the study was conducted. Of victims, 22.8% were victims of multiple rapes.
  • If this data is calculated for a calendar year period, nearly 5% of college women are victimized during any given calendar year.
  • It is estimated that for every 1,000 women attending a college or university, there are 35 incidents of rape each academic year.
  • Off-campus sexual victimization is much more common among college women than on-campus victimization. Of victims of completed rape 33.7% were victimized on campus and 66.3% off campus.
  • Less than 5% of completed or attempted rapes against college women were reported to law enforcement.
  • However, in 2/3rds of the incidents the victim did tell another person, usually a friend, not family or school officials.
  • Another study by Krebs, C.P., Lindquist, C.H., Warner, T.D., Fisher, B.S., & Martin, S.L. (2007). The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study. National Institute of Justice found:

    Many women (88%) have never consumed a drink left unattended or consumed a drink given to them by a stranger (76%).

  • One-quarter of the sample (25%) reported consuming alcohol or drugs before sex at least once a month, and slightly fewer (23%) were drunk or high during sex at least once a month.
  • Eighteen percent experienced an attempted (13%) and/or completed (13%) sexual assault since entering college.
  • Among the total sample, 5% experienced a completed physically forced sexual assault, but a much higher percentage (11%) experienced a completed incapacitated sexual assault.
  • Sexual assaults were most likely to occur in September, October and November, on Friday or Saturday nights, and between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.
    Most victims of physically forced or incapacitated sexual assault were assaulted by someone they knew (79% and 88%).
  • Freshmen and sophomores are at greater risk for victimization than juniors and seniors.

For Student Activists –

  • Know Your IX
  • Students Against for Ending Rape (SAFER). CHANGE HAPPENS anti-violence campus organizing manual. Free for students.
  • Watch PreventConnect Podcast with SAFER, Beyond Blue Lights.
  • The Center for Public Integrity. Reporter’s Toolkit: Investigating Sexual Assault Cases on Your Campus.

For Law Enforcement

  • U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services.Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series No. 17: Acquaintance Rape of College Students.

General Campus Resources

  • The Center for Public Integrity. Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice (three-part series).
  • Los Angeles College Consortium Project (LACCP). Dealing with Campus Violence Against Women Website.
  • Office on Victims of Crime Message Board: Responding to Sexual Violence on Campus.
    Sexual Assault Program Coordinators (SAPC) listserv
  • To join:
    Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) Change Happens blog
  • California Coalition Against Sexual Assault Campus Program
    (CALCASA is the technical assistance provider for grantees of the Office on Violence Against Women’s Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus Program)
  • Campus Sexual Assault Response Teams: Program Development and Operational Management (Book)

Do you need help or information? Here are some options…

If you have been assaulted, call 911.

The Richmond area has a new regional hotline specific to the needs of sexual and domestic violence survivors: 804-612-6126

The Richmond Behavioral Health Authority has a hotline to help people who are having suicidal thoughts at 819-4100.

To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.

For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.

Are you a family member or a bystander and want know how you can help?

  • For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 East Grace Street.
  • Get involved with your local domestic violence shelter to join a group or service that is available.
  • Donate to funds services that help women recovery and restart their lives.

Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at
The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at, read and produced by Carol Olson. Production support is provided by Jennifer Gallienne and Bryan Connolly. Music was created by The Etching Tin

Some facts to end DV awareness month ….

Do you know what constitutes Domestic Violence? Domestic or Interpersonal Violence is willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. With the statistics showing that 1 in 4 women may become victims of interpersonal violence, it is considered an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.  The majority of domestic violence reports are women by partners known to them.

Family members and loved ones who witness abuse are considered secondary victims and can also have emotional and psychological trauma.  The strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next is children who witness violence between one’s parents or caretakers.  In particular, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.   Statistics from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.

There is a high correlation between domestic violence and homicide of females.  Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.  As reported by the NCADV, in 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, a staggering statistic, no matter which partner was killed, the woman was physically abused before the murder.  Also staggering is the realization that less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following abuse.  It is suspected that intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.

Address Confidentiality Program

The Office of the Attorney General has extended the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP).  ACP is a confidential mail-forwarding service for domestic violence victims who have recently relocated to a location unknown to their abuser.

The goal of the ACP is to help domestic violence victims keep their new address confidential. The ACP is not retroactive and cannot provide absolute protection.  The ACP is only one piece of a victim’s overall safety plan.  Each ACP participant should seek counseling through a crisis center and shelter services for an overall safety plan.

To apply for participation in the ACP, the victim must complete an application through our local domestic violence program. Below is a brochure with more details.

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