The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


Dating abuse

Sample Proclamation for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Have you outreached your Mayor or Governor to establishe a teen dating violence awareness month proclamation?  See a sample proclamation below:

Whereas, dating violence is a reality for many youth, and an issue that many parents are unaware of; and,

Whereas, 1 in 3 young people are affected by physical, sexual, or verbal dating violence, with 1 in 5 in a serious relationship reporting having been slapped, pushed, hit, threatened or coerced by a partner, and breakups can be a time of even greater risk even when a relationship was never physically abusive; and,

Whereas, Young people can choose better relationships when they understand that healthy relationships are based on respect and learn to identify early warning signs of an abusive relationship; and

Whereas, Elimination of dating violence must be achieved through cooperation of individuals, organizations, and communities; and,

Whereas, Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month provides an excellent opportunity for citizens to learn more about preventing dating violence and to show support for the numerous organizations and individuals who provide critical advocacy, services and assistance to victims;

Now therefore be it, Resolved, That I, ________________, do hereby proclaim the month of February, 2010, as Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month in ____________.

Please send a copy of your Mayor or Governor’s proclamation to – The EMILY Fund PO Box 430, Roosevelt, NJ 08555-0430 or send a scan to: or Fax to 1-888-247-1291

My upcoming show: The Anti-Violence Advocate

My upcoming show: The Anti-Violence Advocate, is going to be focused on violence and it’s impact on the individual, relationships, families, and our communities.   Violence has great consequences across communities and is integrally linked to oppression of women and marginalized populations, the perpetuation of sexism, racism, heteronormativity, transphobia and other ideologies of domination.


Violence is defined by the World Health Organization as intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person or against a group or community that either results in or would have a high likelihood to result in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.


 Violence and injuries kill more people aged 1 – 44 than any other cause and results in over 400 billion in medical care annually.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention consider this to be one the most serious health problems in the United States.  Yet the numbers of violent deaths is only a portion of the story.  Interpersonal violence in the form of child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, dating violence, and human trafficking for sexual exploitation effects 1 in 4 or more of women and 1 in 8 or more of males.  Survivors are left with permanent physical and emotional scars that can change lives forever by impacting mental health, impairing social functioning and slowing economic and social development, and require ongoing intervention.  But here again, the impact on the survivor is only part of the story.  Violence erodes our communities by increasing costs and demands on medical care, reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services.  The range of interpersonal violence I described contributes to truancy, unemployment, unplanned pregnancies, communicable diseases, unhealthy relationships, substance abuse and dependency, and reduction or loss of income. 


Violence is perpetuated against more than 25% of our community individually and impacts a 100% of our community.  If violence was a disease, it would be considered an epidemic.  Social forces would mobilize, funders would come out in droves, and programs would be implemented to effect change immediately.  But for violence, that still is not happening consistently or maintained strategically.  And why is that?  As violence is an intentional act, it then bodes the realization that it is preventable.  While some people with mental health disorders may cause violence without understanding what they are doing, most violence is premeditated and planned.  People intentionally make decisions to perpetuate violence against others, with the highest numbers of violence perpetuated against women and members of marginalized communities. 


Interpersonal and social factors are related to both the cause and the prevention of violence.  The potentially modifiable factors most associated with levels of violence are concentrated poverty, income disparity, the absence of stable and healthy relationships within families, and (what might be most controversial for some) gender inequality. 

A strategic approach addressing the underlying causes of violence is most effective in preventing violence.  Evidenced-based or scientifically credible strategies to prevent violence include nurse home-visiting and parenting education to prevent child maltreatment; life skills training for children ages 6–18 years; school-based programmes to address gender norms and attitudes; reducing alcohol availability and misuse; reducing access to guns and knives; and promoting gender and racial equality by, for instance, supporting the economic empowerment of women and traditionally marginalized ethnic and cultural groups. 

Upcoming DV events in Virginia – Close out the month by supporting DV awareness

October 25th, 2012 at 7 pm,

Remember My Name will take place at Monument Heights Baptist Church. The YWCA of Richmond hosts Remember My Name, a nondenominational memorial services that commemorates men, women, and children in the Greater Richmond and surrounding communities who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence every October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This memorial will serve as an opportunity for anyone interested to gather as a community that is dedicated to eliminating domestic violence. Flyer

Friday, October 26th –

The Henrico prevention coalition, Too Smart 2 Start (!/HenricoTooSmart2StartCoalition?fref=ts), is collaborating with the Youth Ambassadors in Henrico County ( to plan a Teen Dating Violence Forum in the Spring of 2013 that will be open to all youth in the Greater Richmond Area, but hosted by Henrico. The coalition is looking for interested individuals who would like to help with planning, getting the word out about, and facilitating this dynamic event! If you are interested in being a part of the planning committee for this forum, please e-mail Stacie Vecchietti at by this Friday, October 26th.

Monday, October 29, 2012 10:00 am-11:30 am

Office of Justice Programs, 3rd Floor Ballroom 810 7th Street, NW Washington, DC
“The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault: Implications for First Responders in Law Enforcement, Prosecution, and Victim Advocacy” Presented by Rebecca Campbell, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology and Program Evaluation Michigan State University. Dr. Campbell will bring together research on the neurobiology of trauma and the criminal justice response to sexual assault. She will explain the underlying neurobiology of traumatic events, its emotional and physical manifestation, and how these processes can impact the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults. Real-world, practical implications will be examined for first responders, such as law enforcement, nurses, prosecutors, and advocates. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Yolanda Curtis at or 202-305-2554. The seminar is FREE but you must RSVP to gain access to the OJP building. Please allow 20 minutes to get through security. If you are unable to attend the seminar in person, you can listen to a recording at a few weeks after the seminar takes place.


Sexual Coercion and Teen Dating Violence

Teens face an alarming rate of violence in relationships and it is often not disclosed by the teens or observed by others.  As you will see from Traci’s statistics below, the rates are over 50% of teens experiencing dating violence and sexual coercion. 
A study by Gale Spencer and Sharon Bryant in 2000 analyzed the difference in teen dating violence in rural, suburban, and urban settings. Their study found that teens in rural districts were more likely to be victims of dating violence than their suburban and urban counterparts, with female teens at greatest risk.  It is also apparent in analysis of the research and articles, that teen dating violence and sexual coercion among teens is less likely to be studied in the rural South, despite studies showing that the rural areas and rural areas in the south are more likely to have incidents of teen dating violence and sexual coercion. Rickert, Wiemann, and Vaughan in their study through the Center for Community Health and Education at Columbia University found that teens who were verbally coerced into sex were less likely (only 47%) to tell another person while 60% of teens who experienced rape/attempted rape were more likely to tell another person. Shorter dating periods and the use of alcohol were predictors of disclosure as well.  Meaning the shorter the time the teens were dating, the more likely the adolescent victim of sexual assault is to tell someone and the longer the teens were dating, the less likely the adolescent victim is to tell when violence enters the relationship.
The Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life and the Chesterfield County Coordinating Council produced a study in their community of dating violence in middle and high schools. They found correlation between the perpetrator knowing the victim, substance use, attitudes toward violence, acceptability of violence-related behaviors and grade level.  Additionally, another study by the Center for Studies in Criminology and Law found numerous risk factors associated with dating violence and sexual coercion.  They found that risk taking behaviors mediated the effects of social ties and emotional states on the likelihood of violent victimization in adolescent dating relationships and lend support for theories regarding the relationship between lifestyles and violence in dating relationships. Science Daily and the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported that dating violence and histories of sexual assault among urban teens may be associated with suicide attempts. Childhood sexual assault has been linked with depression, alcohol use and violence, also linking to risk factors for suicide attempts. The authors write that dating violence and sexual coercion/assault is associated with depressive symptoms and multiple health-compromising behaviors.
In support of these statistics regarding the high rate of violence in teen dating relationships, the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health and the Division of Adolescent Medicine, the Department of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center studied the type and amount of parents communication to children and teens about dating violence. They found that only fifty-five percent of parents had discussed dating violence and sexual coercion with their children. Mothers were found to be more likely than fathers to discuss this issue.
Conclusion: That programs are needed to equip parents to talk with children and teens about dating violence and sexual coercion are needed.
In the Rappahannock Area of Virginia, Contact the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault to schedule a prevention/education program for your school or youth-serving agency call 540-371-6771.

Vice President Biden’s Initiative: Apps Against Abuse

Apps Against Abuse

The challenge: Vice President Biden and Secretary Sebelius are honored to announce a challenge that encourages the development of applications that provide college students and young adults with the tools to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault.

The application envisioned will offer individuals a way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse or violence from occurring. While the application will serve a social function of helping people stay in touch with their friends, it will also allow friends to keep track of each other’s whereabouts and check in frequently to avoid being isolated in vulnerable circumstances.

For more information go to:

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.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

February marks the second annual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Teen Dating Violence received national attention during the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2005.  The goal of this month is to shine a light on abuse in teen relationships and focus our energy towards prevention efforts.


Two years ago 19-year-old Siobhan Russell was found brutally stabbed to death by her 17-year-old boyfriend in Oak Hill, Virginia. In 2010, Siobhan’s abuser was arrested and sentenced to 40 years in prison. After living through this horrific event, Siobhan’s mother was determined to do all that she could to prevent other acts of abuse and violence. She now runs an organization to raise awareness about teen dating violence, where she speaks to communities about the warning signs of dating violence. She is an example for us all.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month and it is critical that we take this time to remember that domestic violence is not just a problem for adults. One in three adolescents in the US will be a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner. Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. And two-thirds of teens who are in an abusive relationship never tell anyone about the abuse. It’s time to shine a light on this issue.

Recognizing abuse in a relationship can be difficult, especially for teens. There are many types of abuse that young people may believe are normal in a relationship. Even though teen relationships may be different from adult relationships, teens can experience the same types of abuse. Teens also face unique obstacles if they decide to get help. They may not have money, transportation or a safe place to go. They may also concerns about confidentiality with many adults obligated to make reports to police, parents and/or child protective services.

But, teens have a right to safe and healthy relationships. Your community, should take the lead in raising awareness and preventing teen dating violence. There are many ways that you can take part:

  • Encourage legislators to introduce laws that require teen dating violence education in the classroom. Teens spend the majority of their time in school or at school-related activities and without laws in place to protect them, domestic and sexual violence among teens will continue to cause upheaval at home and at school. Encourage school leaders to step up if legislators will not and offer to pay the often small fees (less than $100) for effective dating violence prevention curricula.
  • Know the laws in your state. Unfortunately, Virginia rates F on the national dating violence grade, [available online at

  •  Take the time to educate yourself and others about teen dating violence. The following websites offer information about teen dating violence and what you can do to help:

Like Siobhan’s mother, you can make a difference.

Ways to Support DV Awareness #14 – Speak to your school’s PTA

Speak to your school’s PTA. Get Break the Cycle’s tips!

Does your community need to be better informed about how to prevent teen dating violence? Speak out now about the importance of addressing abuse.

Break the Cycle’s Speak Up. Speak Out. Speak Now! toolkit provides all the guidance and resources you need to raise awareness in your community about dating violence and Break the Cycle’s important work addressing the issue.

Find a step-by-step guide to get trained and speak out today.

  • Download the Speak Up. Speak Out. Speak Now! manual
  • Download the Speak Up. Speak Out. Speak Now! slideshow

Once you’re comfortable speaking about abuse, set up a table at your local church or gym with the handouts included in the kit. You will be answering questions and raising awareness in now time!

Want to do more? Help your community by building a model for future activism! Document your work by taking photos and keeping notes on successes and lessons learned. Send your thoughts to We’ll use them to encourage others to join you in the national movement against domestic violence.

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