RD104 - Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia – 2018 Annual Report

Executive Summary:

Domestic and sexual violence affect our families, homes, communities, schools, and workplaces on a daily basis. Domestic and sexual violence impact all socio-economic levels, cultures, and religions. Whether the impact is open and obvious, such as a tragic homicide that receives media attention and spurs a community to action, or hidden and subtle, such as the emotional and psychological effect on children who silently live with the violence, domestic and sexual violence can penetrate even the deepest levels of our society.

The available data highlights the impact of these crimes in Virginia. In 2016, there were more than 60,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state.(*1) A total of 3,413 adults and 2,765 children received 198,062 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 587 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space.(*2) A total of 55,376 emergency protective orders were issued by magistrates and judges across the Commonwealth to protect the immediate health and safety of victims and their family members.(*3)

In 2017, Virginia’s state and local agencies and organizations provided tools and resources to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, health care providers, social service providers, and allied professionals. State, local, and private partners also promoted public awareness and prevention initiatives and supported collaborative efforts among agencies and organizations to enhance the overall response to domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking. For example:

• The Office of the Executive Secretary for the Supreme Court of Virginia created the The Hope Card Program. A Hope Card is a laminated card, similar in size and shape to a credit card. This voluntary, optional program provides applicants with a wallet-sized card containing essential information about a family abuse protective order in a durable, easy-to-read format. As of September 2018, Hope Cards are available in fourteen (14) juvenile and domestic relations district courts in Virginia, including Amherst, Bristol, Chesterfield, Clarke, Floyd, Giles, Isle of Wight, Louisa, Pulaski, Radford, Russell, Smyth, Washington, and Wise Counties.

• Family and Children’s Trust Fund (FACT) continues to operate the FACT Data Portal that provides statewide and locality specific data on family violence indicators through an online portal. This allows users to create customized data reports showing data and trends in the areas of child maltreatment, domestic and sexual violence, economic well-being, elder abuse, substance abuse, housing and juvenile justice in their locality.

• The Office for Family Violence in partnership with Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), and the Action Alliance launched the Underserved Populations Learning Collaborative (UPLC) in 2018. This 18 month program is designed to support local programs to become strong allies to underserved populations and to promote access to culturally-responsive, comprehensive services.

• The Action Alliance received a Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ New Initiative Victim Assistance Grant to create the Project for the Empowerment of Survivors (PES), which provides trauma-informed legal information, advice, and referrals to callers throughout Virginia who are experiencing sexual or intimate partner violence, dating violence, human trafficking and/or hate crimes. PES also offers survivors of violence, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, opportunities to carefully weigh legal options and to be linked with legal advocacy and legal services in their communities.

In addition, these agencies and organizations identified and collected data on family and intimate partner violence-related fatalities, domestic and sexual violence-related crimes, protective orders, and services to victims and children in order to assist with providing a broader picture of these issues that confront our communities. Much of that information is included in this Report.

As we enter 2019, we must continue to support the efforts of agencies and programs across the Commonwealth that work tirelessly to promote victim safety and offender accountability, while learning new ways to provide services both efficiently and effectively.
(*1) Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Domestic Violence Services in Virginia – VAdata Report 2016 (2017).
(*2) Id.
(*3) Information provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia.