The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence



The V Word with Lisette Johnson – Part III

Lisette Johnson continues her story of surviving domestic violence and being shot

Tune in Friday, 29, 2017 at 10:00 am for Part IV

Lisette Johnson – Surviving Domestic Violence and Gun Violence: Part II

Today Lisette Johnson continues her story of surviving domestic violence and homicide attempt.

Trauma Informed Advocacy for Domestic Violence

In today’s V Word, Carol talks about Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Domestic Violence and Mental  Health



WRIR 97.3 FM 

Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This year, as we recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, also celebrate the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and the 28th anniversary of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.

To educate those who are not aware of these Acts:

* The Violence Against Women Act is the landmark federal legislation that provides key funding for the justice system’s responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence.

* The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act is the lifeblood of domestic violence shelters and programs across the country.

In tandem with state and local laws, The Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act are making a difference in countless lives, especially in a time of financial crisis. Times like the recent years of recession and economic downturn only serve to exacerbate domestic violence. While the economy does not cause domestic violence, in abusive relationships, factors associated with a bad economy can increase the frequency and severity of abuse.

Another negative impact that recessions have on causes, especially human services related causes are that while demands for domestic violence services increase, funding declines. Governmental entities, corporations and individuals are tightening their budgets and are funding life-saving programs at reduced levels across the nation.

Additionally, while positive: the demand for services increases with improvements in criminal justice responses, better outreach and increased awareness

What can you do?
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, help to renew efforts to invest in life-saving shelters and non-residential domestic violence services. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act is the only dedicated federal funding source for emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, advocacy programs, counseling and comprehensive victim assistance. Research shows that staying at a shelter or working with a domestic violence expert significantly reduces the likelihood that a victim would be abused again and improved the victim’s quality of life. Shelters are effective and efficient.

The University of Connecticut and National Resource Center on Domestic Violence published a groundbreaking study of shelter services (Funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, administered by the National Institute of Justice) It captured the experience of 3,410 shelter residents in 215 programs in 8 states. 99% reported getting the safety they needed; 95% got help with safety planning. 99% got emotional support (counseling, access to faith community, etc.) 93% got help finding housing, job training, managing money, etc. 99% of mothers got safety for children, children’s counseling, health care assistance, and child care.

* The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act has been extremely successful. The problem is that it has never been fully funded. It was written in 1984 and needs to be updated to reflect current best practices.

* A reauthorization bill should build upon its successes and expand its reach to all underserved populations. CURRENT FVPSA FUNDING SIMPLY CANNOT MEET THE NEED FOR SERVICES. FVPSA NEEDS TO BE FULLY FUNDED.

* Use national/state DV Counts 2008 Census numbers to demonstrate the demand for and gap in services and provide local information about the need created by the economic crisis.


Claim: Domestic violence laws represent a reduction in civil rights for those wrongfully accused of perpetrating domestic violence.

Response: The Violence Against Women Act represents a protection of rights for survivors of domestic abuse. It protects victims’ fundamental right to safety when faced with abuse.

Claim: Orders of protection can be issued even without any allegation of physical violence.

Response: Orders of protection are issued in response to physical violence or a credible threat to cause harm, as determined by a judge who weighs the available evidence. They are issued in accordance with due process, as the U.S. Constitution requires. Orders of protection are not a conviction. They are put into place to prevent future violence.

Claim: Allegations of abuse are often recanted because victims cannot produce evidence of the alleged abuse.

Response: Survivors, more often than not, recant allegations out of fear of retaliation from their abusers, not lack of evidence.

Claim: Men and women are equally likely to be the victims of domestic abuse.

Response: Men can be victims of partner abuse, but they represent a minority of cases. We know that 85 percent of the victims are females abused by male partners; they are 90 to 95 percent more likely to be the victims of abuse than are men. (Bureau of Justice Statistics and the U.S. Dept. of Justice)

Claim: Mandatory arrest policies violate the Constitution and increase the safety risk for victims.

Response: Arrest policies outlined in the Violence Against Women Act do not violate the Constitution. They are based on probable cause. Key to holding perpetrators accountable is good training for law enforcement to identity the predominant aggressor and avoid arresting victims. The Violence Against Women Act provides critical support for such training.

More information is available on the Domestic Violence Awareness Project Web site (, coordinated by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

Materials include NNEDV’s domestic violence and sexual assault fact sheet ( and our talking points on domestic violence and the economy (

Ways to Support Domestic Violence Awareness Month #2

Join the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance as a sustaining member.  Supporting the statewide coalition helps you support local efforts with training of professionals serving in the field, advocacy to change legislation to effect greater protections for our community, fund major campaigns to educate the general public, support primary prevention activities in all communities, and fund a state-wide hotline service for survivors and their partners and families.

Positive Results of Advocacy in Virginia!!!

Thanks and Congratulations to all who helped our advocacy to protect domestic violence funding.

Members of the General Assembly of Virginia passed a budget yesterday that restored funding for domestic violence services, homeless shelters (including domestic violence shelters), and child advocacy centers to the levels proposed in former Governor Kaine’s budget.
Your message was persistent, it was clear, and it was effective!   It is a direct result of everyone’s efforts that victims of domestic violence will still have access to safe shelter and life-saving services.
Thank you to the Members of the General Assembly, especially the Budget conferees, for protecting these programs!

Now, we await Governor McDonnell’s signature!
So, here’s what it all means in dollars and cents!
We started this session with a budget proposed by former Governor Kaine that included a 7.5% cut for domestic violence services through the Department of Social Services (VDSS), a 5% cut for Sexual Assault Crisis Centers through the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), an 8% cut for homeless intervention services through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD), and a 10% cut to Child Advocacy Centers.
The Budget passed by the General Assembly includes these original cuts to funding, but no more!  The statewide reductions to domestic and sexual violence services will be:
  • DV Funding at VDSS:  $138,750 cut in 2011 & 2012;
  • SV Funding at DCJS:  $67,500 cut in 2011 & 2012;
  • Homeless Funding at DCHD:  $400,000 in 2011 & 2012;
  • Child Advocacy Centers: $100,000 in 2011 & 2012.
We also spent time advocating for a raise in marriage license fees.  What Happened to the Budget Amendment?

The General Assembly did not include the marriage license fee increase in the final budget.
  • This is GOOD news in that our requested fee increase which was intended to expand services was not used to restore a funding cut. Therefore the Action Alliance can still ask for an increase in the fee in the future to provide expanded services, such as those for children and youth.
  • The downside is that we don’t have dedicated funding for children and youth services.  It also means that domestic violence funding was not completely restored to its 2009 levels.

Holding the domestic violence and shelter funding cuts to below 10% is a significant feat in a budget year like this. Everyone of you who made a call, wrote a letter, had a visit, spread the news, or got media attention is a part of this success!  So thank you to everyone who responded to the action alerts put out by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and spoke up on behalf of Virginia’s domestic violence programs and the persons they serve.

Domestic violence services are important to everyone.  A special thank you to the following who engaged in grassroots organizing to spread the news of the domestic violence cuts and rally support for restoring funds:
  • NOW-Virginia
  • Virginia Interfaith Center
  • The Farm Team
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children
  • Virginia Organizing Project, which held a Bake Sale for the Budget.
Heartfelt thanks to Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and Delegate John O’Bannon for serving as our budget amendment patrons (and Delegate Kirk Cox for co-patroning) and to all of the Budget Conferees who supported restoring our funds.
Finally, a big thank you to the lobbyists, Gena Boyle and Claire Guthrie Gastañaga who worked tirelessly to get these funds restored (and Chris Spanos who helped explain the complicated and veiled budget process).
Now for the Next Steps and what you can do to help:

Governor: Now the budget is in the Governor’s hands – he can sign it or amend it.  Please call (804-786-2211) or e-mail via and ask him to approve the budget as it includes no additional cuts to domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
Thanks again to all of our Local allies – your efforts were critical in getting this funding restored.
Re-posted (revised) from the The Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

Action Needed – Support Services for Victims of Violence

Earlier I posted a press release by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance detailing the proposed budgets released by the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.  There are significant differences between the House and Senate proposals and we need everyone’s help to bridge the gap and protect funding for domestic violence services.
The House Appropriations Committee is recommending a budget that includes significant cuts for domestic violence services (31%).
The Senate Finance Committee is recommending a budget that minimizes cuts for domestic violence services (7.5% ) and also includes an increase in the marriage license fee to $45 to provide funding for services to children and youth.
The Action Alliance is calling on its membership and supporting community members to ask our state Senators and Delegates to support an increase in the marriage license fee to preserve the opportunity to provide services to children and youth exposed to sexual and domestic violence without sacrificing services to adults victims of domestic violence services.

Each body will be voting on their respective budgets on Thursday, and then a conference committee will be appointed to try to resolve the differences and come up with one budget.
They need to hear from you that there is a revenue source in the Senate Budget to protect funding for domestic violence services.

Following are some steps that you can take:
1. Contact your state Senator:
  • Call your state Senator, express gratitude for the Senate Finance Committee’s support of domestic violence programs, and ask him/her to support the recommended budget of the Senate Finance Committee who worked hard to protect domestic violence program funding and supported the budget amendment for children’s services.
  • Send a personal letter (it can be brief) to your Senator immediately after your call to follow-up and reiterate in writing the need for them to support the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed budget and increase in the marriage license fee.
2. Contact your state Delegate
3. Contact anyone you know who is concerned about the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children, and ask them to also contact their Senators and their Delegates.

4. Contact your local domestic violence program and ask how you can support their action steps in your community.

5. After taking action, please let us know and share with us how it went by sending an email to or making a post to the 1,000 Grandmothers Campaign on facebook at:
If you have any questions or concerns about this information, please free to contact the Action Alliance Co-Directors, Jeanine Beiber or Kristi VanAudenhove at or 804-377-0335.
Thank you for your support!
Carol Olson, Governing Body Member and Executive Director of the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault

Press Release – VSDVAA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2010

Contact:  Kristi VanAudenhove,, 804/377-0335

 (Richmond, Virginia) On Wednesday,  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, proposed severe cuts to state domestic violence programs that will end services to thousands of Virginians whose  lives depend on the shelter and services these programs provide.   Governor McDonnell asked the General Assembly to cut more than $3.5 million in funding[1] that supports domestic violence shelters and services to victims and their children across the Commonwealth.  These cuts would be in addition to across the board cuts of 10% proposed in the Governor Kaine’s introduced budget.  If adopted, Governor McDonnell’s recommendations will bring the total cuts to 50% of state funding  – which translates to an average cut of $100,000 for each community Domestic Violence Program across the Commonwealth.

Kristi VanAudenhove and Jeanine Beiber, co-directors of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance released the following statement in response to the Governor’s proposed cuts:

At a time when the need for domestic violence shelter and services is expanding, in part because of added economic stress on families, these programs should rank higher than rest stop convenience or overseas offices for state economic development bureaucrats. Domestic violence programs are a public safety issue and a “jobs” issue and they should be prioritized as such.

Speaking to members of the General Assembly just one month ago, Candy Phillips, Executive Director of the First Step domestic violence program in Harrisonburg said:  I implore you: please do not cut funding any further to domestic violence shelters in Virginia.  In the 15 years that I have worked at First Step I have never seen things this bad. Calls are increasing, our emergency shelter is staying full and we’re witnessing more severe acts of violence.

Individuals who cannot access shelter from violence or related services aren’t merely inconvenienced.  When asked “What would you have done if the shelter had not existed?” 22% of service recipients surveyed[2] indicated that they would have been homeless, 21% reported that they would have been compelled to return to their abusers and 10% believed that they would be dead at the hands of their abuser.

                Survey respondents said: 

 I would have been living in my car with an 18-month old worrying about my life.

I was close to ending my own life.  I felt safe here.

 Sarah Meacham, Executive Director of Avalon:  A Center for Women and Children, serving the greater Williamsburg area shared her response to these cuts:  A significant decrease in funding, like the one proposed by Governor McDonnell, will not only result in a loss of agency jobs and reduction in services available to victims who need it the most, it will force women and children to have nowhere to turn during the most difficult period in their lives.  We are experiencing a tremendous increase in demand for emergency shelter and supportive services—a 76% increase over last year alone. Our clients are real women with real children, not just budget items to be dropped.

In addition to compelling evidence that cuts to domestic violence jeopardize public safety, cuts to these programs are also a “jobs” issue.  There is a direct impact on Virginia’s economy when domestic violence services are unavailable; the inability to access services affects employee productivity, results in increased absenteeism and health care costs, and can impact the safety of workplaces.

Virginia’s long-term commitment to funding these programs is an important part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to public safety, an area the Governor protected from significant reductions.  Without the availability of shelter programs and other services, Virginia families and children face the prospect of lives in which they have no safe haven from violence, and law enforcement has no way to intervene to prevent violence before it results in injury or death. 

We urge member agencies of the Action Alliance and concerned citizens to contact their legislators as well as the Governor’s office to share their concern about this change of direction in Virginia’s commitment to public safety. 

We look forward to the opportunity to work with the Governor, with whom we have worked closely in the past as Attorney General and member of the House of Delegates, to find ways to continue to fund domestic violence programs in a manner that will alleviate the devastating  consequences that will result with the acceptance of this week’s proposals and accord these programs the budget priority they deserve.

The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Action Alliance is a not-for-profit agency representing 53 community domestic violence programs across the Commonwealth that annually provide services to more than 12,000 adults and 4,000 children.  For more information, visit the Action Alliance web-site:

[1] McDonnell proposes to eliminate funding that was first appropriated by the General Assembly in response to the fact that 1 out of 2 victims calling and requesting safe shelter could not be sheltered by Domestic Violence Programs because the agencies did not have space available.  The Assembly initially used federal funds to support a substantial increase in bed space—along with the crisis and support services necessary for victims and their children filling those beds.   Governor Kaine proposed replacing these federal funds with state funds – funds McDonnell now proposes to cut completely along with the needed services they provide.


[2] Virginia’s Domestic Violence Programs provide safety and support to thousands of victims of domestic violence each year.  In an effort to ensure quality services, in 2009 the Domestic Violence Programs implemented a statewide outcome evaluation effort supported by the Family Violence Prevention and Services office of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  697 individuals who have received shelter and services from Domestic Violence Programs have completed anonymous surveys evaluating those services.  It is a testament to the value of these services that 85% reported that as a result of the services they could live more safely.   In response to the question, “What would you have done if the shelter had not existed?” 22% indicated that they would have been homeless, 21% reported that they would have been compelled to return to their abusers and 10% believed that they would be dead at the hands of their abuser.

How you can help

There is still time to ACT to influence the outcome of the final budget.  Following are some steps that you can take:

  • Contact  Governor McDonnell and request that he restore $3.8 million to Virginia’s domestic violence programs as a public safety priority and to continue the commitment that he made to domestic violence programs as Attorney General and as a candidate for governor.  You can reach the Governor @ 804-786-2211.
  • Contact your state Senator and Delegate and request that they restore $3.8 million in the state’s budget to Virginia’s domestic violence programs.  If you do not know who your state Senator or Delegate is, go to:  For Senator Capitol office phone numbers:$$Viewtemplate+for+WMembershipHome?OpenForm

For Delegate Capitol office phone numbers:

  • Contact anyone you know who is concerned about the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children, and ask them to also contact Governor McDonnell, their Senators, and their Delegates.
  • Spread the word:  write a letter to the editor of your local paper or the Richmond Times Dispatch; post your concerns as well as these action steps on facebook, twitter, or your personal blog.
  • Contact your local domestic violence program and ask how you can support their action steps in your community.

If you have any questions or concerns about this information, please free to contact the Action Alliance Co-Directors, Jeanine Beiber or Kristi VanAudenhove at or 804-377-0335. Thank you for your support! 

Speak Out!! Legislative Advocacy Day

It’s time to speak out!

Next Wednesday, January 27th, is an opportunities for you to get involved in the public policy work of the  Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

Legislative Advocacy Day!

Members from across the Commonwealth will come to Richmond to meet with their legislators and educate them on:

Funding for services that support children and youth who have been exposed to sexual or domestic violence (through an increase in the marriage license fee) 

All of the children that could be forced to testify against their parents if a particular bill passes

Why it is time to have a comprehensive review of Virginia’s protective order laws rather than passing many small fixes

A stalking bill that could help make it easier for offenders of stalking to be charged

One barrier to reporting for immigrant victims and witnesses of crime, and how they can help remove it

We really hope that you will get involved.  Please do and contact the Action Alliance staff to find out how you can support these issues. 

Contact the Action Alliance at: and click on “Legislative Advocacy Day January 2010 Register online” You will receive an agenda, directions and other information once you register.

We hope to see you next week!

Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance Legislative Advocacy Day in Richmond, January 27, 2010! Join us in educating members of the General Assembly about sexual and domestic violence issues. Go to to register

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: