The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence



Reject Immigration-related bills that threaten access to safety for victims of sexual and domestic violence

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!

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.

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: 

Welcome new stand alone Rape Crisis Center in Virginia

Here is a re-post from the Roanoke Times


Sarah Bruyn Jones, Roanoke Times

October 29, 2011

The Roanoke area’s sexual assault crisis center is now an independent nonprofit, as it seeks to maintain its long-standing presence in the community.

The Sexual Assault Response & Awareness program, or SARA, operated out of Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare until July 1, when it separated from the agency. On Friday the organization held an open house and silent auction at its new offices at 3034 Brambleton Ave. S.W. in Roanoke.

The process toward separation began in the fall of 2009, when Blue Ridge said it could no longer subsidize the administrative costs for running SARA.

Blue Ridge sought to find another administrative home for the group, but by this year, it had become clear that SARA would have to stand on its own, said Teresa Berry, who has worked for the program for a quarter-century and is now the executive director of the newly formed nonprofit.

The new organization incorporated with the state in March as Sexual Assault Response & Awareness Inc.

By May, SARA had successfully filed with the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status.

SARA, which provides free support services to sexual assault victims including counseling and accompaniment to court hearings, continues to operate with grants from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Berry said. SARA gets about $165,000 annually from three DCJS grants, she said.

But that doesn’t cover general fund expenses, including legal fees and other startup costs, she said. To cover those expenses, Berry has put in about $8,000 of her own money and received another $6,000 from donors.

Friday’s open house was intended, in part, to kick off some needed fundraising. Berry said she would like to add three more people to her staff, which currently includes herself and one other person.

SARA serves about 350 victims a year and has recently seen an increase in need, particularly among young adults and teenagers, she said.

“We need to be doing more education,” she said.

Silent No Longer: Honoring Survivors and Victims of Domestic Violence

Join the Virginia Attorney General in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Silent No Longer: Honoring Survivors and Victims of Domestic Violence

You are invited to see the following: Exhibits open at 9:00 a.m.:

* Silent Witness Figures

* Beating Hearts Display

* Domestic Violence Quilts

Remarks by the Attorney General at 9:30 a.m.

Domestic Violence Survivor, Claire Hylton Sheppard

Video Overview of    Telling Amy’s Story

 And enjoy refreshments.

October 4, 2011

Office of the Attorney General, 900 East Main Street Auditorium, Richmond, Virginia 23219

Questions? Contact Melissa Roberson at (804) 692-0592,

Get your Prevention ON: Introduction to Primary Prevention

September 23, 2011  9:00AM- 4:00PM
Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley (1217 Grove Avenue Radford, VA 24141) will host an introduction to primary prevention.

Primary Prevention programs are focused on reducing or eliminating the first-time perpetration of sexual violence and intimate partner violence (SV/IPV).

For information and registration contact Jonathan at or 804-377-0335.

Anti-Violence Advocate – Give your time and join a caucus

Are you interested in working to end sexual and domestic violence?  If you are not interested in joining the board of a local agency, committee work is just as needed and a very creative way be involved.  The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance has many task forces, caucuses and committees to join for your particular interest related to anti-violence work, many that meet around the state to make it easier for people all over Virginia to get involved.   Below is a list hosted by the Action Alliance with contact information.  Give us a call and join us to help end violence in our communities.

Task Forces, Caucuses & Committee Meetings

Child Advocacy Task Force-next meeting 3/11/2011 Charlottesville

For more information contact: Arlene Vassell-Richards

Wild Women of Wisdom Task Force-

For more information contact: Walker Thornton

South West Task Force

For more information contact: Rose Leone

Northern Virginia Task Force-next meeting 3/15/2011 Alexandria

For more information contact: Kathleen Kelmelis

Women of Color Caucus

For more information contact: Cathy Coleman or Tishaun Harris-Ugworji

Queer Caucus-next meeting 5/19/2011 at the membership meeting location TBD

For more information contact:  Rachel Smith

Survivor Caucus For more information contact: Barbara Shine

Training Institute Committee

For more information contact Quillan Drew

Principles and Process Committee-next meeting 5/26/2011 Richmond 12pm

For more information contact: Jeanine Beiber

Leadership Development Committee-

For more information contact: Jeanine Beiber

Public Policy Committee

For more information contact: Kristine Hall Gena Boyle

Accreditation Committee

For more information contact: Linda Winston Darlene Ward

Coalition Development Committee

For more information contact Megan Wood

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: