RD718 - Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia 2019 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 2018, there were more than 64,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state.(*1) A total of 3,811 adults and 3,060 children received 226,091 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 832 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space.(*2) A total of 55,576 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 2018 and 2019, 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 Underserved Population Learning Collaborative (UPLC) was formed in a partnership between the Action Alliance, Victim Services Division of DCJS, and Office on Family Violence within the Virginia Department of Social Services to enhance domestic violence and sexual assault outreach, services, and community partnerships throughout Virginia. The UPLC’s goal is to build the capacity of these agencies to be strong allies to underserved populations and promote access to appropriate comprehensive services. Twenty domestic and sexual violence agencies and 74 advocates made up the first cohort for UPLC. The UPLC provided the agencies/advocates in the cohort with technical assistance, learning sessions, regional gatherings and site visits. An analysis of processes and policies occurred to assist with changing and enhancing services to underserved populations and advocates learned about historical and current barriers that keep some populations from accessing services, and examined how to engage those populations in more meaningful and intentional ways.

• In CY2019, the Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor (VAWRP), through the Commonwealth’s Attorney Services Council organized and implemented over 50 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit for Virginia’s prosecutors on issues related to the investigation and prosecution of domestic and sexual violence and stalking cases. That training included four hours of training specifically focused on ethical issues that arise in the investigation and prosecution of these cases. The VAWRP also provided over 30 hours of in-service PIC credit training to officers in the area of domestic violence and sexual assault.

• The Office of the Attorney General completed the testing of 1,798 sexual assault kits through the District Attorney of New York grant in October 2018. Review and validation of the analysis results by the Department of Forensic Science concluded in March 2019. Of the 568 DNA profiles that were entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), 239 resulted in a “hit" or match to either an individual and/or case in the system. These “hits" were reported to the local law enforcement agencies for review and follow-up which include determining the potential for further investigation and notifying the survivor of the testing results. The first arrest from this round of testing occurred in November 2019.

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 2018 (2019).
(*2) Id.
(*3) Information provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia.