News Archives

Friday, December 06, 2013 by Action Alliance


People accused of stalking or domestic violence in Virginia who are subject to a protective ordercannot carry a gun. People convicted of stalking or domestic violence in Virginia can. State Del.-elect Marcus Simon, who represents parts of the greater McLean and Falls Church areas, has pre-filed a bill in Richmond to close what he sees as a loophole. "It's sort of a common-sense protection from folks being retaliated against," Simon told Patch. "We want people to be able to come forward and report domestic violence." Simon's bill would make it a felony for anyone convicted of stalking, sexual battery or assault and battery of a family member that results in serious injury from possessing or carrying a firearm for five years. The bill also provides an avenue for those convicted to petition the court to reinstate their rights.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013 by Action Alliance


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA--The Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Virginia’s leading voice on sexual and domestic violence, fully supports House Bill 1 (Co-sponsors: Delegate Barbara Comstock and Delegate Chris Peace), which would establish a Sexual and Domestic Violence Subfund at the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund (CICF). Senator Janet Howell and Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel are co-sponsoring companion legislation in the Senate. The new Subfund will be a repository for existing and new funding, and is intended to streamline what is currently an inefficient and burdensome funding structure for Virginia’s 53 Sexual and Domestic Violence Crisis Centers.

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Friday, November 22, 2013 by Action Alliance


A University of Virginia group is trying to promote awareness about gender violence at the school. To get the word out, they're calling on students to come up with a creative campaign. The UVA Women's Center Sexual and Domestic Violence Services is teaming up with the Avon Foundation for this challenge. They're asking students to create a 30 second PSA and a social media campaign that promotes gender violence prevention. The winning team will get cash, and a chance to see their work in action.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by Action Alliance

Samaritan House Named Winner in Third Annual Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program!

(Virginia Beach, VA) Samaritan House, Virginia’s largest domestic violence shelter, wins a new van from Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program. Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good is a Facebook-enabled philanthropy initiative where Toyota gives away 100 cars in 50 days to 100 nonprofits. 250 finalists were chosen from a pool of 2,500 applicants. Finalists were chosen based on need and the vehicle’s impact on the community.

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Friday, October 18, 2013 by Action Alliance

VA SHORE: New director, new energy help Coalition Against Domestic Violence

ONANCOCK — The Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence has come up with an innovative way for the community to show its support for victims of domestic violence — just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, celebrated annually in October. “Let’s face it, domestic violence is tough. ... How do you make this something people want to talk about?” said the coalition’s new executive director, Cristi S. Lawton, who started work Sept. 3. The new project debuted at the Eastern Shore Harvest Festival earlier this month and generated positive response. Dubbed “Pillow Talk,” the initiative gives community members the chance to write messages of care and encouragement on white pillowcases, which are then given to victims who are guests of the coalition’s emergency shelter. When guests leave the shelter, they can take their pillowcase with them.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013 by Action Alliance


The inaugual Celebration Night, a benefit for victims of sexual assault, will be held Oct. 24 at the University of Virginia. Fear2Freedom, a global nonprofit organization providing assistance to sexual assault victims, is partnering with the UVa chapter of the International Justice Mission and the student group One Less to lead the event. Attendees will help put together about 200 kits for assault victims. Each kit contains toiletries and clothing, since the victims’ belongings may be collected as evidence. The kits will be divided between the Foothills Child Advocacy Center and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, which will distribute the kits through the UVa Medical Center. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Newcomb Hall. Volunteers are welcome. For more information, email or visit

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by Action Alliance


RICHMOND - Recent numbers show as many as 65 percent of teenage girls are in an abusive relationship. Many effects can last with them their whole lives. Caitlin Shiflett is an intimate partner violence and sexual assault advocate at VCU Medical Center. "It's more difficult for them to recognize the red flags," she says. "So a lot of what they experience they question themselves if it's abuse."

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Friday, October 11, 2013 by Action Alliance


FRONT ROYAL -- The former executive director of Harmony Place domestic violence shelter said Friday she had resigned days earlier by "mutual agreement" as unconfirmed reports swirled that the facility at 317 E. Main St. has closed permanently. The doors to the shelter were locked Friday and no one answered the intercom at the door or phone calls to the office. Phones calls to some members of the board of directors were not returned. A phone call to the Harmony Place hotline was routed to the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline, a statewide service. A woman who answered said the statewide hotline was answering all emergency calls to Harmony Place while the agency is closed.

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Friday, October 11, 2013 by Action Alliance


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Franklin County Family Resource Center (FRC) is ready to help with free community services and information. The FRC, a state-accredited domestic violence program, promotes safe and healthy living environments for Franklin County families who are victims of domestic violence, said Director Cynthia Treadway. "The center strives to reduce domestic violence incidents and increase knowledge, self-esteem and empowerment throughout the county by providing services to the community, promoting community awareness and providing support for victims," said Treadway.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013 by Action Alliance


An article in the Cavalier Daily Thursday morning is drawing a lot of attention. The editorial recommends making rape a violation under the University of Virginia honor code. At UVA, sexual offenses may not get you kicked out of the university, but honor code violations will. Right now, UVA honor code violations are lying, cheating and stealing. But the article has sparked a conversation about change. "The University of Virginia was expelling cheaters but we weren't expelling rapists," said Charlie Tyson, executive director of the Cavalier Daily. That issue sparked Tyson to write an article urging that rape become an honor offense. Tyson says he didn't write the article to change the code, but rather to spark conversation. And it turns out a lot of people think changes should be made "Sexual misconduct is definitely a breach of - serious violation that should constitute an honor offense," said second-year student Nico Narel.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013 by Action Alliance


Every five days, a Virginian is killed by an intimate partner. The incidence for domestic violence in Rappahannock County is equally staggering: 100 or more of its approximate 7,500 citizens most likely face abuse by a loved one each year, equating to roughly 1.33 percent of its population. Seven out of 10 abuse victims are women nationally, and of the 24,072 arrests in 2010 for abuse in Virginia, only 21.7 percent resulted in convictions. In a September 2012 report compiled by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Rappahannock County averaged 24 arrests related to domestic violence between 2006 and 2010. Culpeper-based Services to Abused Families (SAFE) reports that this equates to an average of 3.8 arrests each year per 1,000 people in Rappahannock, a median when compared to other counties in SAFE’s service area: Culpeper averages 5.2 arrests; 4.7 in Madison; and 2.2 in both Fauquier and Orange. Virginia’s overall 2010 state average was 4.1 arrests.

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013 by Action Alliance

UVA Women’s Center Launching PSA, Social Media Challenge

The University of Virginia Women's Center is launching a new challenge for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Women's Center's Sexual and Domestic Violence Services received a grant from the Avon Foundation last spring to fund this project. Organizers say it gives students a unique opportunity to think about how to reduce gender violence on campus. The UVA Women's Center will formally launch the gender violence prevention social media and PSA challenge on Wednesday. Interested students can work in teams of up to six to make a two-prong project, consisting of a 30-second video PSA and a social media campaign plan.

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Saturday, October 05, 2013 by Action Alliance


VIRGINIA BEACH -- Students at Regent University pitched in to help victims of sexual assault Friday. Regent hosted the non-profit group, Fear 2 Freedom, to help make 300 comfort kits for those suffering from sexual abuse. 100 students packed boxes full of sweat pants, toiletries, and teddy bears. They may seem like everyday items, but Rosemary Trible, founder of Fear 2 Freedom, says these comfort kits have special meaning to those hospitalized after sexual abuse. "Individuals don't understand, when someone goes to the hospital after sexual assault, domestic violence, or even child abuse, that all of their clothes have to be kept for evidence. and it broke my heart realizing that they've been leaving in paper scrubs," said Trible. Trible, a victim of sexual assault herself, was joined Friday by Brook Bello, a survivor of human trafficking and advocate against sexual abuse. "What she does is extraordinary,” said Bello. “Not just kids who are victims of human trafficking, but kids who have been raped, molested, or violated in some way." 200 kits were delivered by ambulance to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to help forensic nurses there begin the healing process for patients. Another 100 kits were donated to the YWCA in Norfolk.

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Friday, October 04, 2013 by Action Alliance


Domestic violence and rape crisis service providers across the country have received notice from federal officials that if the government shutdown carries on past Friday, they will no longer have access to the federal funds that keep them open and running, leaving countless victims stranded. As Bryce Covert at ThinkProgress notes, some of these facilities may be able to weather the funding freeze while others, specifically rural programs that rely heavily on federal money, are looking at the possibility of laying off staff or shutting down entirely. A domestic violence and rape crisis service provider in California shared her (or his) experiencein the face of the funding crisis, along with the letter alerting centers to the freeze, with Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish:

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013 by Action Alliance

Federal Shutdown Jeopardizes Domestic Violence Victims and Programs

The level of uncertainty for domestic violence victims and the programs that serve them increased today, this first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as the federal government shut down due to an unfinished funding bill. Domestic violence victims often rely on government supports to maintain their safety and economic stability in times of crisis. For instance, many victims of domestic violence depend on safety net benefits, like the federally-funded Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program. This and other federally-supported benefits are threatened by a government shutdown that lasts more than a few days.

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Monday, September 30, 2013 by Action Alliance


ROANOKE -- Nicole Harold works at the Western Laboratory which is one of the four state labs across Virginia. The labs work with local law enforcement to process evidences for crimes like rape. "Any PERK that is submitted to our laboratory we will work," says Nicole Harold, DFS Western Lab. A PERK is also known as a rape kit that consists of swabs and smears of evidence taken from the victim. A problem that's happened nationwide is some of these kits were used but never tested and put away because of budget cuts. Here in the Commonwealth Forensic Labs are seeing a backlog as well. We checked with Virginia's Department of Forensic Science and they tell us that the Commonwealth has seen a thousand untested cases including rape in 2010. But so far this year, there's only a backlog of 111 sexual assault cases.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013 by Action Alliance

BEFORE ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER IS HARMED: Domestic violence happens in all neighborhoods

A community forum is planned to discuss ways to prevent it. Roanoke Councilman Sherman Lea is hosting Strengthening Families: A Community Conversation about Family and Intimate Partner Violence on Sept. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Roanoke Civic Center Exhibit Hall. The program, sponsored by the city of Roanoke and Total Action for Progress, is free and open to all to attend. “We’re hoping to have a good crowd and a good strong, frank conversation about domestic violence and do whatever we can to strengthen our families,” Lea said. Lea became a crusader against domestic violence after a series of tragic events in 2005. Early efforts were city-centric, but Lea is seeking to reach out to the broader community because domestic violence is not confined to the city’s borders.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013 by Action Alliance


Virginia Military Institute says procedures weren’t followed in the reporting of a female cadet’s sexual assault claim. VMI spokesman Stewart MacInnis said the 2010 claim was supposed to be reported to the school’s inspector general, who didn’t learn about it until eight months later. The Roanoke Times reports the cadet told a school official in November 2010 that a senior staff member assaulted her that evening while she was a guest in his off-campus home during the Thanksgiving holiday break.

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Friday, August 23, 2013 by Action Alliance


Plans are underway for a movie about Kemba Smith Pradia’s life as a young woman whose tumultuous four-year relationship with a major drug dealer landed her in prison under a 24-year mandatory sentence. The Virginia native hasn’t given much thought to whom she would like to see in the title role of the movie that is being scripted from her self-published book “Poster Child: The Kemba Smith Story.” “I’m a very humble type individual. I just want God to do what needs to be done so it can be impactful,” Pradia said in telephone interview. The movie will show that Pradia was doomed until President Bill Clinton granted clemency to her and others who faced extreme sentences because of mandatory sentencing guidelines. She served almost seven years of her sentence.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013 by Action Alliance


When a woman reports a rape, she is given a forensic evidence exam--known informally, as a rape kit. But the rape kits used by hospitals all over the country are using a technique that puts women with dark skin at a disadvantage. The first thing that happens when a woman goes to the University of Virginia hospital and reports a rape--she’s offered choices. "So when a victim comes in, we find out what the victim wants to do. At a minimum, we’ll make sure that the victim is physically okay," says UVA nurse and researcher Kathryn Laughon. The victim is offered medication to prevent STDs and pregnancy. An advocate is called to offer support for her. Then, if the victim is interested in pursuing criminal charges, the hospital performs a sexual assault forensic evidence exam, also known as a rape kit. "And that is a physical exam looking for any kind of injury, not just injury that is medically useful, but small scrapes, and bruises. We document using photography any evidence we see, we collect samples if there’s any debris attached to the body so that it can be preserved for later forensic evaluation."

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013 by Action Alliance

Action Alliance Partners with Department of Corrections, Will Offer Sexual Assault Advocacy Services

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA-- The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and the Virginia Department of Corrections have entered into an agreement to provide specialized crisis and advocacy services to incarcerated individuals who are victims of sexual abuse or assault. The collaborative project is a result of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Through the toll-free Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline, the Action Alliance will provide crisis support and services to people who are sexually assaulted while incarcerated. The Hotline will act as a resource for incarcerated victims to report sexual abuse or assault, and will connect victims to emergency accompaniment services from trained victim advocates.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by Action Alliance


The Police Department is changing its policy on sexual assault investigations in response to a case in which detectives did not believe a victim and - for a time - closed her file while an attacker was on the loose. Chief Mike Goldsmith sent a memo to the City Council, City Manager Marcus Jones and other officials Thursday, outlining changes he said would improve the way his department deals with sexual assault victims, including allowing rape crisis advocates in interviews and making sure victims are checked by medical staff. Also, detectives in the Special Crimes Division will undergo training about post-traumatic stress disorder and rape trauma syndrome and an online program from End Violence Against Women International.

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Monday, August 12, 2013 by Action Alliance

Virginia First State to Require Schools to Establish Threat Assessment Teams

School systems across Virginia are getting threat assessment training as part of a mandate passed by this year's General Assembly. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services has tapped UVA Education professor Dewey Cornell to train these assessment teams, and Charles Fishburne talked with him about how to make schools safer in Virginia.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013 by Action Alliance


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia regulators say a Craig County school nurse is facing a disciplinary hearing after they say she failed to report the rape of a student. The Virginia Board of Nursing has set a hearing in late August for Trena Boudreaux. According to the notice from the board, the registered nurse did not report the incident to school officials, county officials or the student's parents. No details about the date, place or other circumstances of the rape are included in the notice. County school superintendent Kelly Wilmore tells The Roanoke Times ( that Boudreaux is no longer employed by the school system.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Action Alliance

New “Peace Begins at Home” License Plates to Promote Healthy Futures

[RICHMOND, VIRGINIA]--New ”Peace Begins at Home” special license plates that were recently approved by the Virginia General Assembly will help pay for violence prevention programs aimed at stopping sexual and domestic violence before it starts. Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun & Fairfax) and Delegate John O’Bannon III, M.D. (R-Richmond) sponsored legislation during the 2013 Virginia General Assembly to authorize the “Peace Begins at Home” special-interest license plate to support prevention projects among Virginia’s sexual and domestic violence agencies. Senator Herring was on scene at the Richmond (Broad Street) Department of Motor Vehicles today to deliver 500 pre-paid orders for the Virginia DMV to begin production of the new “Peace Begins at Home” license plates.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by Action Alliance

Action Alliance Launches LGBTQ Helpline for Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA-- Virginians who identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, biseuxal, transgender, queer or questioning) now have access to a toll-free helpline designed specifically to address the needs of members of the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline launched this month to provide support, information, and referrals to survivors, friends, family, and professionals wanting to know more about how to help members of the LGBTQ community who have been affected by sexual assault or partner abuse. The Helpline operates Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, and can be reached by calling 1-866-356-6998.

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Friday, July 05, 2013 by Action Alliance

VA starts sexual, domestic violence clearinghouse

A new online resource is available for Virginia professionals who deal with sexual and domestic violence. The attorney general's office announced the establishment of the Community Solutions to Sexual and Domestic Violence website Wednesday. It's a clearinghouse that includes training materials, evaluation tools, conference announcements, brochures, model policies and other resources.

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Monday, June 24, 2013 by Action Alliance

Report: More Virginia Children Living in Poverty

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia ranks 11th in the nation when it comes to the well-being of its children. However, the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2013 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today also reveals that fallout from the recession continues to take a toll on children in the state.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013 by Action Alliance


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Friday, May 24, 2013 by Action Alliance


A Portsmouth organization that aids victims of domestic violence is trying to raise awareness and money by selling special license plates that read: "Peace Begins at Home."

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