RD698 - Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia 2020 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 2019, there were more than 68,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state.(*1) A total of 3,726 adults and 2,892 children received 228,703 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 846 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space.(*2) A total of 56,962 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 2019 and 2020, 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. In addition, state, local, and private partners had to make accommodations to continue providing assistance, advocacy, counseling, shelter, etc. for victims of domestic and sexual violence due to COVID-19. For example:

• The Office of the Attorney General coordinated with over 100 law enforcement agencies to submit all eligible PERKs for testing that were identified as unsubmitted in the two inventories. Testing of 2,664 PERKs and secondary review of analysis results by DFS was completed in September 2020. From these PERKs, 905 new DNA profiles were added to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) resulting in 386 matches, or “hits", to offenders/arrestees or evidence in other cases. Two cases have resulted in an arrest so far; one of which resulted in a conviction and the other case is currently awaiting trial.

• The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia conducted training in June of 2020 to twenty-nine (29) newly appointed judges. They attended a protective order training session at their pre-bench training in Richmond, Virginia. Out of the twenty-nine judges, eleven (11) were circuit court judges, ten (10) were general district court judges, and eight (8) were juvenile and domestic relations district court judges.

• In 2019, new public access workstations were installed in forty-seven (47) general districts courts throughout the Commonwealth. In addition to providing the public with the ability to search for and view public case information, public access workstations provide the public with access to court forms and I-CAN! Virginia. This new service allows petitioners to complete their protective order paperwork online at the courthouse with the assistance of I-CAN! Virginia. As of July 2020, a total of eighty-four (84) public access workstations were installed at various general district courts throughout the Commonwealth.

• In FY19, FACT successfully administered 10 grants for the FY2019-2020 grant period. Grants included two large system wide trauma-informed community network grants in Richmond and Charlottesville and eight local service grants. Local service grants supported a range of services such as emergency shelter services, counseling services, trauma-informed parent education, and child sexual abuse trainings and served 52 Virginia localities.

• During 2020, the Action Alliance and project Coaches successfully wrapped up the first cohort of this 24-month project and welcomed in 18 new sexual and domestic violence agencies, 2 state partners, and the Action Alliance as cohort two participants.

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 2021, 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 2019 (2020).
(*2) Id.
(*3) Information provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia.