The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence



Virginia and National Training Opportunities

Basic and Continuing Advocacy Training through the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence  Action Alliance
Basic and Continuing Advocacy Training offers advocates and staff of Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies as well as allied professionals and community members a foundation to learn and practice many of the skills necessary to provide effective, trauma-informed responses to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. The Basic Advocacy Training (BAT) are scheduled to be held in Richmond, VA, while the Continuing Advocacy Training (CAT) will be held at locations around the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you would like to bring a BAT or CAT to your region, please visit our website and make a request.
All BATs and CATs are $45 and the fee includes materials and lunch.
Don’t forget to use your member discount code when registering.
Not a member?  Become one here. The 2015 codes will be provided when memberships are renewed at the beginning of the year. If you have questions about how to receive your member discount, please contact us at or get in touch with your staff liaison as assigned.
Upcoming training include:
Technical Assistance Calls & Webinars
These TA calls are free for member agencies of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. The calls will be from 10:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m. (unless otherwise noted). Click on the title to register and receive call-in information.


Training from End Violence Against Women International 

One of the most common requests we receive is for resources associated with the neurobiology of trauma, and the implications for trauma-informed interviews, investigations, and prosecutions. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the training and technical assistance resources we offer in this area.
Webinar on Neurobiology
We are delighted to offer a 90-minute webinar given by Dr. Rebecca Campbell on The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault. It is available for free in our webinar archives, so it can be accessed at any time.

Participants will learn about the neurobiology of trauma and its application to victims of sexual assault. By exploring how trauma affects victims’ emotions and behavior, special attention will be given to examining how the brain processes and recalls traumatic events. This will help law enforcement personnel and other professionals recognize how these concepts can be applied to sexual assault investigations and prosecutions – with the goal of improving both victim well-being and case success.
Along with the audiorecording of the webinar, we provide the slides in PDF format, with either 3 slides per page or 1 slide per page. A transcript of the webinar is also available, along with the responses to chat questions submitted by webinar participants. These questions were adapted for a general audience, and responses were co-authored by Sgt. Archambault along with EVAWI’s Research Director, Dr. Kim Lonsway.

Webinars on Victim Interviewing

 Also available is an archived webinar by Russell Strand, entitled A Paradigm Shift: The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI). This webinar provides information on the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for successfully interviewing sexual assault victims.

We also have an archived webinar on Effective Victim Interviewing, presented by Roger Canaff and Joanne Archambault. While it does not specifically address the neurobiology of trauma and its implications, valuable guidance is provided for successfully interviewing victims of sexual assault with an eye toward criminal prosecution.

Published Articles
Another helpful resource is a short article written by Dr. James W. Hopper entitled, “Why Many Rape Victims Don’t Fight or Yell.” It appeared in the Washington Post on June 23, 2015, and provides an excellent and accessible summary of the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for victim behavior during a sexual assault.

Dr. Hopper also co-authored an article with Dr. David Lisak, entitled: “Why Rape and Trauma Survivors Have Fragmented and Incomplete Memories.” This article was posted on, and it also provides a detailed yet accessible explanation of how trauma can impact behavior and memory. The article draws helpful parallels to the scenario where a police officer is “suddenly staring at the wrong end of a gun.”

Online Resources
In the Best Practices section of our website, there are a variety of Resources as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed approaches.  For example, FAQs include the following:

  • Is there any kind of test to determine whether there is an increase in certain neurochemicals as a result of experiencing trauma?
  • Are the processes involved in the neurobiology of trauma affected by mental illness or other mental health issues? Are they affected by drugs or alcohol?
  • Are there studies about the neurobiology of trauma resulting from domestic violence? Is it similar to the effects of sexual assault? Are the implications the same for conducting interviews with victims of intimate partner violence?
  • Are there any experts who can testify about the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for victims of sexual assault?
OLTI Module on Victim Interviewing
We offer an OnLine Training Institute (OLTI) module onInterviewing the Victim: Techniques Based on the Realistic Dynamics of Sexual Assault. This module was written in 2007, and although we made updates in 2013 we have not yet incorporated information on the neurobiology of sexual assault and trauma-informed approaches. Nonetheless, we recommend this training module, because it offers hundreds of pages with detailed information on topics such as:
  • Strategizing an interview approach based on case facts
  • Preparing for heightened effectiveness and avoiding common pitfalls
  • Establishing rapport and building a relationship of trust with the victim
  • Gathering information to support a successful investigation and prosecution
  • Closing the interview and following up with the victim

For victims who have a disability, even more detailed guidance is provided in the OLTI module on Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against Victims with Disabilities.

The only section of the Victim Interviewing module that requires caution at this point is the topic of Cognitive Interviewing. There are certainly some valuable lessons to be learned from that approach, and there is a body of research supporting its use for certain purposes, but we caution that it should not be adopted wholesale for use with sexual assault victims. When we update that module and incorporate information on trauma-informed approaches we will reduce that content and frame its utility in somewhat narrower terms (e.g., recalling specific facts, events, details).


Other State and National Training Opportunities

National Children’s Advocacy Center – Virtual Training Center. Various free online training opportunities.

Enhancing the Campus & Community Response to Adult Sexual Assault: A Team Approach. Free. Hosted by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Monday, August 31, 2015 – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 — Hampden-Sydney, VA Wednesday, September 2, 2015 – Thursday, September 3, 2015 — Williamsburg, VA

National Sexual Assault Conference. September 2-4, Los Angeles, CA, $475 and up (transportation, lodging, and most meals not included), Hosted by CALCASA, NSVRC, and PCAR {Scholarships available}

reposted from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance  and End Violence Against Women International 

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 (

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