Attorney General Mark Herring recognized October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by highlighting some of the services available to victims of domestic violence in the Commonwealth. In order to help spread awareness of intimate partner violence, particularly among young people, he has also made the “relationship violence” lesson of the Virginia Rules program available to the public for the month of October.
“The first step in addressing domestic violence is acknowledging, as a society, that it is a problem and accepting the responsibility of addressing it,” said Attorney General Herring. “Domestic violence can leave a lasting impact that affects families for generations, but by intervening early to connect victims and vulnerable people with the resources they need, we can help break the cycle of violence and prevent re-victimization. Victims of domestic violence must know the there is a strong network of resources and caring individuals who want to help them.”
To raise awareness about the problem of domestic violence and highlight some of Virginia’s community based services, Attorney General Herring visited Safe Harbor this morning, a Richmond area shelter and resource center for victims of domestic and sexual violence, to thank the staff for their important work. While at Safe Harbor, he and his staff dropped off 47 medication lockboxes with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, one for each domestic violence shelter in the Commonwealth, after the shelters identified a need to secure the medications of victims and their families when they come to shelters.
Attorney General Herring also received a commemorative “peace begins at home” license plate from representatives of the Action Alliance. The plates, which were created by legislation he sponsored in 2013 as a state senator, support the Action Alliance’s efforts to prevent domestic and sexual violence and provide needed support for victims.
Resources for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia
Virginia offers a number of programs and resources to prevent and respond to domestic and sexual violence. Victims of domestic violence are encouraged to seek help, either by calling 911 in an emergency, or by calling the national domestic violence hotline (1-800-799-7233) or Virginia domestic violence hotline (1-800-838-8238), which is operated by the Action Alliance. In 2013, 65,667 calls were placed to the Virginia hotline, of which 39,191 were domestic violence related.
There are also numerous local service providers in communities across the Commonwealth that are available to help victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Some of Virginia’s programs to combat domestic and sexual violence in Virginia include:
- GEAP grant (Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program)–Implementation of the GEAP grant includes a partnership of five state and nonprofit agencies: the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Criminal Justice Services, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, and Virginia Poverty Law Center. The current GEAP grant cycle, which lasts until September 2016, is focusing on serving traditionally underserved populations in the areas of domestic and sexual violence. The Partnership is paying particular attention to older adults, African Americans, Immigrants, and people with limited English proficiency. The partnership is in the process of completing a statewide assessment of needs to determine how best to serve these populations.
- VSTOP grant (Violence Against Women Act Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution grant program)–This grant covers supports efforts to prevent all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking. This program provides training to law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, victim/witness, and allied professionals on various topics relating to violence against women and is particularly supporting efforts to work with Latino victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual violence. The V-STOP program also provides referrals to victims of domestic and sexual violence and stalking. This program also provides local domestic violence and Victim/Witness programs with free literature and educational materials for victims of domestic violence, service providers, and law enforcement personnel. This year, the VSTOP grant program in partnership with DCJS hosted a three day conference, Domestic Violence Homicide Reduction Conference This conference provided information on the Lethality Assessment Protocol and High Risk Teams. Overviews of both programs were provided along with how they would look in Virginia and implementation ideas. There were over 200 attendees at this conference. The OAG is leading a statewide initiative on Lethality Assessment Programs designed to reduce domestic violence homicides in Virginia. Following the successful conference on this topic, we are working with our state wide partners to enhance the safety of those experiencing intimate partner violence.
- Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) for victims of domestic violence and stalking–This program, operated by the Office of Attorney General, helps keep a victim’s new address confidential from their abuser. The ACP provides a substitute address for receiving mail and use in public records which has no relation to a victim’s actual address. The ACP also provides a confidential mail forwarding service to participants in the program. Currently, there are 148 participants in the program, 66 adults and 82 children. Two adult participants are stalking victims and the remainder are domestic violence victims. The ACP went statewide on July 1, 2011, and added victims of stalking on July 1, 2014.
By the Numbers: Domestic Violence in Virginia
In 2013, 115 homicides were related to family and intimate partner violence (out of 340 total homicides.)
In 2012, 117 homicides were related to family and intimate partner violence (out of 344 total homicides.)
(Source: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner)
in 2012, there were 67,380 calls to the state and local hotlines, of those 40,693 were domestic violence related.
(Source: Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance)
In 2012, there were:
37,045 emergency protective orders in family abuse cases
20,718 arrests for assault and battery against a family or household member. Of the charges filed, 5,433, or 26%, resulted in convictions.
15,127 preliminary and final protective orders issued, including both family abuse and acts of violence, force, or threat protective orders.
13,974 emergency protective orders in acts of violence, force, or threat cases
3,696 arrests for violating family abuse protective orders, with 37% (1,468) resulting in convictions.
1,016 felony charges for third or subsequent offenses of assault and battery against a family or household member, resulting in 915 (90%) convictions.
758 arrests for violations of the protective orders for acts of violence, threat, or force, with 235 convictions
(Source: 2013 Annual Report on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia and the Virginia State Police)