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Vice President Biden’s Visit to the National Domestic Violence Hotline
November 6th, 2013 Posted by

Last Wednesday I joined Vice President Joe Biden, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal, Director of Family Violence Prevention and Services Program Marylouise Kelley, and Mariska Hargitay, founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin, TX to announce a $500,000 grant from OVW to continue support of the National Dating Abuse Helpline.

The National Dating Abuse Helpline, launched in February 2007 in partnership with Liz Claiborne, Inc., was developed in response to the growing number of teens who were calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Through the Helpline’s experiences it become abundantly clear that youth and young adults struggle to navigate an advocacy and judicial system that was originally designed for adults.  In 2010, the Helpline formalized a partnership with Break the Cycle and in Fall 2011 loveisrespect.org was launched.  Loveisrespect.org is an invaluable resource for teens and young adults to find information on healthy relationships, dating basics, and signs of abuse.

Since OVW made its first award to the Helpline in 2009, we have seen its hours and services expanded so that teens and young adults can reach a trained peer advocate 24 hours a day by phone, text, or chat.  In 2011 the Helpline became the nation’s first organization to provide assistance via text messaging and each year the Helpline reaches 18,000 youth and young adults via text messaging.

OVW is proud to continue our support of this critical service that reaches over 40,000 teen and young adult victims and survivors every year.  The Helpline estimates 12,000 callers utilize phone services and 28,000 youth and young adults are reached via online chat services.  With nearly 1.5 million high school students experiencing dating violence each year we must work together to end this violence.

We are fortunate to have the unwavering support of Vice President Biden and the entire Obama Administration in calling for an end to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Earlier this year OVW announced twenty grants made under the Consolidated Youth Grant Program.  OVW’s Consolidated Youth  grantees are providing services to children and youth exposed to violence, training teachers, coaches, and professionals to improve responses, and developing innovative prevention strategies that encourage men and boys to work as allies with women and girls to prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Working together, we can end this epidemic and prevent violence before it begins.

To learn more about teen dating violence and what you can do, please visit www.loveisrespect.org.

The Helpline provides confidential objective one-to-one peer support through phones, text, and chat.  Services are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Text “loveis” to 22522 or call 1-866-331-9474 to be connected with a peer advocate.

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October 24th, 2013 Posted by

This October, as we recognize National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Office on Violence Against Women joins communities across our country in celebrating the tremendous progress we have made over the past nineteen years in creating safer homes, safer communities and a safer Nation.  Unfortunately, this message is clouded by the recent government shutdown that coincided with the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the continued financial insecurity organizations, tribes, and local governments are facing.  In a time when service providers, local and tribal law enforcement, courts, prosecutors  and others working to address violence against women have already experienced  reductions in funding due to state budget cuts and sequestration, we know that the unnecessary and harmful government shutdown created additional financial uncertainty for our grantees and cooperative agreement recipients.

During the two week government shutdown OVW heard from grantees about the dire financial circumstances many programs faced.  In communities across the country domestic violence services providers, shelters, and health care clinics were forced to shorten business hours, and in some cases furlough employees.  For the countless advocates, victim service providers, law enforcement officials, and prosecutors working to make a difference in the lives of victims and survivors, we thank you for your steadfast dedication and sacrifice in this difficult time.

As victim service providers are being asked to do more with less, President Obama’s 2013 National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Proclamation holds more importance than ever.  Since 2009 his Administration’s unwavering commitment to “[e]nding violence in the home…” has been demonstrated time and time again – most recently with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  On March 7, 2013 the Administration reaffirmed its pledge “to provide protection and justice for survivors” and extends legislative protections to more victims and survivors.    For the first time in any federal funding statute, VAWA 2013 recognizes the civil rights of LGBT victims and survivors by explicitly prohibiting VAWA grantees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We are fortunate to have an Administration dedicated to ensuring that victims achieve their goals of safety, autonomy, healing, and economic security.

In this month’s email, I am sharing excellent examples of work and events from our many partners.  I hope you will follow up with OVW or the relevant organizations if any of these ideas sound like a good resource for your endeavors.

Collaboration between OVW, other components in the Department of Justice, agencies and offices across the Administration, and our partners in the field is crucial to eliminating domestic violence.  And we will continue to work diligently toward expanding and improving services, including those that meet the specific cultural and linguistic needs of survivors; preventing domestic violence homicides; developing specialized domestic violence courts; and enhancing the safety of American Indian and Alaska Native women in Indian country.

Examples of recent successful collaboration:

  • As part of OVW’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative launched in March 2013, Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder announced grants to twelve programs targeting reduction of domestic violence homicides.
  • To further develop specialized domestic violence courts across the country the Court Training and Improvements Program announced its Mentor Court Initiative in March 2013.  Three courts, Brooklyn, NY; Ada County, ID; and Dallas, TX, were selected to offer peer-to-peer resources to civil and criminal domestic violence courts across the country on best practices, training and programming.
  • On November 14, the 8th Annual Violence Against Women Tribal Consultation will be held in Washington, DC.  DOJ officials and OVW will engage in dialogue with tribal leaders regarding resources and the grant-making process, as well as solicit recommendations from tribal leaders about how to enhance the safety of Alaska Native and American Indian communities, improving the federal response to violence against Indian women, and administration of grant funds.
  • In March 2012, an interagency federal working group was formed to explore issues concerning the intersection of AIDS/HIV, gender-based violence, and gender-related health concerns.  In September 2013 the working group released, Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, & Gender–Related Health Disparities.  The report outlines recommended actions for federal agencies to improve the effectiveness of responses to the complex intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities.
  • In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month OVW’s Children and Youth Exposed to Violence Grant Program released its third and final newsletter this month.  The CEV grant program seeks develop partnerships between community-based organizations and governmental agencies to increase the resources, services, and advocacy available to children, youth and their nonabusing parent or caretaker, when a child has been exposed to violence.

In addition to the invaluable work OVW grantees and technical assistance providers do with victims and survivors, our partners are critical in promoting domestic violence awareness and reaching members of the community.

We are excited to share some recent innovative projects developed by local organizations to address domestic violence in their community:

Raising awareness in communities, including the use of social media, can be a powerful tool for effective responses to domestic violence.  Examples of social media utilization:

Expanding efforts to reach culturally-specific and other underserved communities in culturally-appropriate ways will ensure that we meet the diverse needs of individuals in our communities.  Here are two recent examples:

Recognizing consequences of trauma and working with victims will help to insure their recovery and survival.  Two events to increase awareness of the consequences of trauma:

Domestic violence affects an entire community.  Building relationships between advocates, law enforcement, the criminal justice system, service providers, and health care practitioners is critical to assisting victims.  Members of the community can also help in raising awareness, forming alliances, and understanding that domestic violence impacts everyone.  At the Office on Violence Against Women, we will continue to work with our partners to enhance and expand programs and support to victims.

To all of you who assist victims of domestic violence, whether a member of law enforcement, a prosecutor, a health care provider, a shelter worker, advocate, advisor or friend, your contribution is valued and important.  We could not continue this effort without you.

We encourage those in need of assistance, or concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

POSTED IN: Messages  |  PERMALINK
Ensuring Access for LGBT Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence and Stalking
September 30th, 2013 Posted by

Tomorrow, October 1, the grant-related provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 take effect. 

OVW is looking forward to implementing these provisions during the FY 2014 award cycle, including measures that will strengthen our national response to sexual assault, focus attention on reducing domestic violence homicides, and recognize the needs of younger girls who are victimized.  You will hear more from us on these issues in the coming months, as OVW issues its FY 2014 solicitations and related guidance to our grantee community. 

With this post, I would like to single out one historic provision in the new Act.  For the first time in any federal funding statute, VAWA 2013 recognizes the civil rights of LGBT victims and survivors by explicitly prohibiting VAWA grantees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  This groundbreaking provision will ensure that LGBT victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence and stalking are not denied, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, access to the critical services that OVW supports. 

We realize that victim service providers and other OVW grantees may have questions about how this new nondiscrimination provision may affect the way they run their programs and serve victims.  The Department is developing answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” and guidance will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, I know that many of you are eager to improve the way you serve the LGBT population. To learn more about how to provide effective and culturally competent services to LGBT victims and survivors, please consider contacting the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).  With funding from OVW, NCAVP’s Training and Technical Assistance Center is available to provide education and technical assistance on this subject to OVW grantees.  For more information, you can reach NCAVP as follows: 

T&TA Center:  http://avp.org/resources/training-center
Toll-free warmline:  1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) (Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST)
Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging (IM): AVPlgbt
E-mail: info@ncavp.org

As always, if you have particular thoughts or ideas, I would urge you to participate in the Office’s ongoing conferral process, which is designed to allow you to provide your input to OVW.  The schedule for our conferral calls can be found on our website at http://blogs.justice.gov/ovw/archives/2427 

I look forward to collaborating with all of you as we continue work to ensure that our response to domestic and sexual violence recognizes and includes LGBT victims and survivors and their unique needs.

Share Your Ideas with OVW: Participate in a VAWA Conferral Session
September 6th, 2013 Posted by

The Office on Violence Against Women is beginning its first-ever biennial conferral with stakeholders, and we want you to be part of it. We have two updates since our last notice:

  1. Due to popular demand, we have scheduled a second date for the Vulnerable Populations and Victims Facing Barriers to Accessing Services or Justice conferral.  You don’t need to sign up for both – they will be the same.  This conferral will be held on December 12 – details below.
  2. The date for the LGBT Issues conferral has been moved to November 6th.  An update was sent to invited participants.

Don’t forget to register for a conferral session if you would like to participate.  The first two conferrals are coming up this week – Tuesday the 24th and Wednesday the 25th – and will focus on STOP and SASP grants.  You can register at http://ta2ta.org/ovw-webinar-registration.html.

Here is all the information you need to participate:

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 establishes a conferral process to ensure OVW is informed by State and tribal coalitions, OVW technical assistance providers, and other key stakeholders in the field. This message constitutes initiation of the first conferral process.

The areas of conferral include:

  • the administration of grants;
  • unmet needs;
  • promising practices in the field; and
  • emerging trends.

Not later than 90 days after the conclusion of the conferral period, OVW will publish a report that summarizes the issues presented during conferral and what policies we intend to implement to address those issues.

OVW’s 2013/2014 conferral process will be very broad because it is the first-ever conferral. In the future, OVW may select specific discretionary grant programs for discussion or focus on the four statutory conferral areas.

Due to sequestration and a strong emphasis on limiting conferences and travel expenditures, OVW will host the conferrals online through a webinar and/or conference call process. To save money while maximizing input from key stakeholders, OVW will also convene in-person conferral sessions at preexisting meetings.

To gather feedback from a wide range of key stakeholders, OVW will host a mix of invitation-only meetings and webinars/calls, meetings where attendees representing particular sectors are recruited through various methods, and meetings open to the general public.

OVW must confer with state and tribal coalitions and technical assistance providers, as well as other key stakeholders. Thus, the conferral process will emphasize feedback from these coalitions and TA providers, as well as crucial stakeholders such as STOP and SASP Administrators and grantees of other OVW programs. Tribal governments also have an annual consultation with OVW and provide input on VAWA programs.

Each conferral session – both in-person and virtual – will request feedback on the four statutory topics (administration of grants, unmet needs, promising practices in the field, and emerging trends), as well as any other issues raised by participating individuals. The conferral sessions will be structured as listening sessions, although OVW staff may answer questions if answers can be quickly and readily provided.

The conferral sessions will primarily occur during the fall and early winter, though some in-person sessions may be in the spring to utilize preexisting meetings. See below for planned dates of webinars/calls that are open to the public.

Individuals may register to attend as many open webinars/calls as they like. To maximize the number of people who are able to speak during the sessions, commenters will generally be limited to three minutes, after which their lines will be muted. If the comment is obscene or hateful, OVW may mute the line sooner. If you don’t get the chance to speak or still have more to say, don’t worry – you can submit brief written comments. (See below for details about written comments.)

All the open conferral listening sessions are for anyone with an interest – not just OVW grantees. Survivors, service providers who are not OVW grant recipients and other individuals who wish to comment are welcome to join. However, several sensitive issues will have a more limited participation in order to create a safe, productive space for conversation.

Conferral sessions will be at 5pm Eastern time to enable participation from all states and territories. Each webinar/call will be one hour long. Webinars will be closed-captioned and participants will be able to type comments and questions. Dates are subject to change. OVW will provide notice of any changes.

Conferral Sessions Open to the Public:

  1. STOP Formula Grants to States
    September 24, 2013 at 5pm EDT
  2. SASP Formula Grants to States and Sexual Assault Issues Generally
    September 25, 2013 at 5pm EDT
  3. Services and Access to Justice for Male Victims
    October 1, 2013 at 5pm EDT
  4. Vulnerable Populations and Victims Facing Barriers to Accessing Services or Justice (first session)
    November 7, 2013 at 5pm EST
  5. Technical Assistance: Needs in the Field
    December 11, 2013 at 5pm EST
  6. Vulnerable Populations and Victims Facing Barriers to Accessing Services or Justice (alternate session if you can’t make the first date – newly added)
    December 12, 2013 at 5pm EST
  7. Open Forum: Administration of Grants, Unmet Needs, Promising Practices in the Field, Emerging Issues, and Any Other Topics of Interest
    January 16, 2014 at 5pm EST

To register for a conferral session, visit http://ta2ta.org/ovw-webinar-registration.html. After registering, you will receive information about how to join the conferrals.

Conferral Sessions by Invitation-Only:
(Invitations and instructions will follow via email.)

  1. Issues of Race and Ethnicity
    October 9, 2013 at 5pm EDT
    Open to organizations or programs that specifically serve racial and ethnic minority communities, as well as representatives of these communities.

  2. LGBT Issues
    November 6, 2013 at 5pm EST (new date)
    Open to organizations or programs that specifically serve LGBT communities, as well as representatives of these communities.

STOP/SASP Administrator, Coalitions, and TA Providers:

If you are a STOP or SASP Sate Formula Grant Administrator, a Tribal or State Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition Director, or an OVW Technical Assistance Provider, you will receive information about in-person and virtual (call/webinar) conferral listening sessions. You are welcome to attend the open conferral sessions as well.

Written Comments:

Individuals and organizations may submit written comments for each of the topical calls, but comments are limited to two pages. If comments exceed the limit, only the first two pages will be reviewed. Comments can be submitted any time from now until March 1, 2014. If you would like to submit comments, email them to OVW.Director@usdoj.gov. Please put “conferral” in the subject line.

OVW intends to host a thorough conferral process. However, the conferral plan may need to change in response to developing events in the coming months and to information gleaned in the initial conferral sessions. For example, OVW may determine that fewer webinars/calls are needed or that a particular topic requires additional focus. Notice of relevant changes will be provided via email and/or OVW’s website. Don’t forget you can register for any of the open webinars at http://ta2ta.org/ovw-webinar-registration.html.

We are excited to hear from you in the coming months.

Providing a Victim-Centered Response to Sexual Assault in Confinement Facilities
August 12th, 2013 Posted by

In an effort to help improve victim-centered responses to sexual assault in correctional environments, I am excited to announce the release of a companion to the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations: Adults/Adolescents (SAFE Protocol) entitled Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the U.S. Department of Justice’s A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents (the Guide).

Sexual assault in correctional environments is a persistent problem, with serious, life-altering consequences for its victims.  Each year roughly 80,000 inmates experience sexual abuse.  We know that victims often feel they have no recourse – that because they were raped in prison, no one will care and there is no hope of punishment for the offender.  We also know that facilities are striving to provide better responses to such inmates. 

The Guide builds on the existing best practices outlined in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women publication, National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations: Adults/Adolescents, 2d., and is tailored to address the unique needs of victims in corrections.  For example, the Guide includes discussions on topics such as balancing safety and security needs of the facility with the victim’s needs, and making efforts to offer victims privacy, to the extent possible, in the aftermath of sexual assault.   In addition to helping facilities provide victim-centered care, the Guide can help correctional institutions meet requirements in the Department’s Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards relating to coordinated responses and partnering with victim advocacy organizations.

In developing the Guide, OVW held focus groups with experts from prisons, jails, and community corrections, including correctional administrators, medical practitioners, advocates, and experts from juvenile corrections and lockups.  OVW and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) also held a joint workshop on rape crisis center response to victims in corrections in order to learn more about issues, challenges, and potential promising practices for partnerships between rape crisis centers and corrections. We heard about the challenges faced by victims in correctional environments – things like difficulty communicating with advocates and overall lack of control of their lives.  We also heard about challenges faced by the correctional organizations, such as the need to maintain security while meeting the victim’s needs.  Lastly, we heard about effective best practices.  For example, we heard about a program where corrections and community-based advocates had partnered, and advocates came to the facility to meet with victims.  This included cross-training so the advocates understood the unique needs of the victim population and the facility and the correctional organization understood the role of the advocates.

At OVW we understand that confinement facilities have unique needs and face specific challenges in responding to sexual assault. This new product will assist administrators of prisons, jails, and community confinement facilities in drafting or revising protocols for an immediate response to incidences and reports of sexual assault, and also identifies issues and recommendations for administrators of lockups and juvenile corrections.  This guide is just one step to ensuring safety and providing hope for sexual assault victims in correctional settings. We are excited to continue this work in partnership with Just Detention International (JDI), which is hosting a series of webinars and developing a web page with tools to help improve the capacity for rape crisis centers and correctional facilities to work together and comply with PREA standards. 

The PREA Resource Center and Vera Institute of Justice will be hosting a webinar on September 10, at 2:00 to provide further information on the Guide, its development, and how to use it.  Presenters include Marnie Shiels of OVW, Tara Graham of the PREA Resource Center, Allison Hastings of the Vera Institute of Justice, Linda McFarlane of Just Detention International, and Jennifer Feicht of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.  To register, go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5T2GNMG.

Download Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the U.S. Department of Justice’s A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/publications.html.

Joint Statement of The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, The Office for Victims of Crime, and The Office on Violence Against Women on Addressing Gender-Discrimination in Policing
June 20th, 2013 Posted by

Over the last few decades, the United States has increasingly recognized that domestic and sexual violence are serious crimes that should be treated as such by law enforcement.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and other federal laws and programs have helped build criminal justice capacity and expertise, trained thousands of officers, and resulted in more effective law enforcement.  DOJ is proud of our long-standing partnership with law enforcement agencies across the country working every day to ensure that justice is served for women who are victims of violence.  We have made tremendous strides in response by law enforcement to sexual assault and intimate partner violence since the passage of VAWA in 1994.  However, the rate of crimes against women remains deeply troubling.  According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has been raped and 1 in 4 has experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Law enforcement agencies face difficult challenges in addressing violence against women.  Our understanding of effective strategies for providing police services free from gender bias has advanced significantly over the past 20 years, and many departments have taken important steps to ensure that they have the policies, training, staffing, and supervision necessary to conduct conclusive, reliable investigations.  Unfortunately, reports of law enforcement agencies failing to investigate or adequately respond to domestic and sexual violence periodically surface.  While a failure to properly respond to crimes against women may have many causes, in some instances gender bias plays a role in undermining the effective response by law enforcement to crimes against women.

The U.S. Constitution and federal statutes prohibit discriminatory policing of domestic or sexual violence by law enforcement agencies – such as under-enforcement of domestic or sexual violence laws or enforcement caused by gender bias.  The prevention of sex-based discrimination, including sex-based discrimination by law enforcement, is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  Most recently the Division announced three related agreements with the University of Montana – Missoula, the University’s campus police force, and the Missoula Police Department to address serious concerns that these entities were discriminating against women by failing to adequately respond to and investigate reports of sexual assaults of women, including students at the University of Montana.2

The Civil Rights Division has conducted investigations addressing whether women were subject to discriminatory practices related to police services and has found a pattern of discrimination in the New Orleans Police Department and similar problems with the Puerto Rico Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.  These law enforcement agencies are not alone in their need to improve their response to sexual assault and all forms of violence against women.  Indeed, through their agreements with the Department of Justice, Missoula, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico are working to implement reforms that will stand as models to other law enforcement agencies across the country.  We encourage other jurisdictions across the country to follow their lead and review and revise policies, protocols, and, most importantly, practices, to ensure they are free from gender bias. 

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), the Office for Victims of Crimes (OVC), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) join together in our commitment to providing law enforcement agencies with the resources, technical assistance, and support that they need to ensure safety for all members of their communities and achieve compliance with applicable federal laws.  Our grantees and technical assistance providers have produced model policies, training curricula, best practices, and a host of resources for law enforcement on how to appropriately address domestic and sexual violence cases.  Examples include:   

AI/AN SANE-SART Initiative (www.ovc.gov/AIANSane-Sart
OVC, in partnership with the FBI and the Indian Health Service (IHS), implemented the American Indian/Alaska Native Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner – Sexual Assault Response Team (AI/AN SANE-SART) Initiative to enhance the capacity of AI/AN communities to provide high-quality multidisciplinary, coordinated services and support for adult and child victims of sexual assault.  This multi-component initiative includes the provision of tailored training and technical assistance to AI/AN communities to develop effective culturally relevant services and programs that can serve as models for other AI/AN communities nationwide.

EVAW International (www.evawintl.org
End Violence Against Women International (EVAW), working in partnership with OVW, has developed the OnLine Training Institute to bring state-of-the-art training on the topic of criminal justice response to sexual assault.  The OnLine Training Institute provides the opportunity for interested professionals to expand their knowledge of cutting edge developments in the criminal justice and community response to sexual assault, with particular emphasis on those crimes committed by someone who is known to the victim (i.e., non-strangers).

IACP (http://theiacp.org/)
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), working in partnership with OVW, produced “Investigating Sexual Assault Model Policy” and “Sexual Assault Incident Reports: Investigative Strategies.”  These documents provide guidelines for responding to reports of sexual assault and developing a coordinated response to these crimes. 

Working in partnership with OVC, IACP developed “Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims,” a comprehensive set of resources for agencies to use in improving their approach to victims, including victims of sexual assault.  Resources include an implementation guide, accompanying implementation tools, and training enhancements.  A DVD about the initiative, “Service, Support & Justice: Law Enforcement Response to Crime Victims,” highlights the benefits, challenges, methods, and responsibilities of placing a high priority on crime victims’ interests.

IAFN (http://safeta.org/)
The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), in partnership with OVW and key stakeholders in the field, developed Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Technical Assistance (SAFEta) to promote and disseminate the “National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations of Adults and Adolescents” and to provide training and technical assistance for all sexual assault responders about sexual assault forensic examinations and related issues.  The SAFEta website is designed for multi-disciplinary team members who are working with victims of sexual assault and includes the section “Especially for Law Enforcement,” highlighting the sections of the SAFE National Protocol and other resources that may be most helpful for law enforcement.

NCRLE (www.cji.edu/ncrle-saproject.html)
The University of Arkansas National Center for Rural Law Enforcement (NCRLE), working in partnership with OVW, developed a sexual assault curriculum for law enforcement executives in rural areas nationwide.  NCRLE also offers the “Sexual Assault Training for Rural Law Enforcement Personnel Online,” ensuring that sexual assault training is accessible to all rural law enforcement agencies, both management and investigator, regardless of staffing resources and budget limitations.

Oregon SATI (http://oregonsatf.org/)
The State of Oregon Sexual Assault Taskforce, working in partnership with OVW, provides ongoing training and technical assistance through “the Sexual Assault Training Institute” (SATI) to all members of a sexual assault response team, including law enforcement, through a series of statewide and regional trainings.

OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center
The OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) is the gateway to current training and technical assistance for victim service providers and allied professionals who serve crime victims.  The aim of OVC TTAC is to build the capacity of victim-serving organizations and agencies across the country through a variety of training and technical assistance.  OVC TTAC has numerous resources focused on enhancing the capacity of professionals, including law enforcement, to assist victims of sexual assault.

Problem-Oriented Guides for Police
Working in partnership with the COPS Office, the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing has produced two guides to strengthen police response to violence against women.  Sexual Assault of Women by Strangers (http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P217)provides police with an overview of the problem of sexual assault of women by strangers and the factors that increase its risks, and Domestic Violence (http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P123) is an essential tool for law enforcement to help analyze and respond to their local problem.

SART Toolkit (http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/sartkit/)
OVC released the SART Toolkit, an online collection of resources for communities considering establishment of a SART team or those seeking to improve their existing coordinated response to victims of sexual assault.  The resources contained in the Toolkit are intended to assist, formalize, expand on and evaluate SART responses by providing guidance on such topics as: culturally specific services; increasing accessibility of services; expanding services to improve investigative and prosecutorial practices; enhancing multijurisdictional responses; and forming permanent partnerships within the community to help ensure the SART model is sustained over time.

For more information about the Civil Rights Division’s Letters of Findings and Settlement Agreements, please click on the following links:

University of Montana

Findings Letter: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/edu/documents/montanaletter.pdf

Settlement Agreement: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/edu/documents/montanaagree.pdf

University of Montana Office of Public Safety

Findings Letter: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/missoulafind_5-9-13.pdf

Settlement Agreement: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/missoulasettle_5-9-13.pdf

Missoula Police Department

Findings Letter: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/missoulapdfind_5-15-13.pdf

Settlement Agreement: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/missoulapdsettle_5-15-13.pdf

New Orleans Police Department

Findings Letter: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/nopd_report.pdf

Settlement Agreement: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/nopd_agreement_1-11-13.pdf

Puerto Rico Police Department

Findings Letter: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/prpd_letter.pdf

Settlement Agreement: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/prpd_agreement_12-21-12.pdf

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

Findings Letter: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/mcso_findletter_12-15-11.pdf

Working together, we at OVW, COPS and OVC commend and stand ready to support jurisdictions like Missoula that are prepared to do the hard work of ensuring that all victims of violence, regardless of gender, have access to the justice and safety they deserve.  For additional information on funding and/or training and technical assistance opportunities in support of your communities’ efforts, please visit our websites at www.cops.usdoj.gov, www.ovc.gov, and www.ovw.usdoj.gov.

Joshua A. Ederheimer
Acting Director
COPS Office

Joye Frost
Principal Deputy Director
OVC

Bea Hanson
Acting Director
OVW

1 http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Executive_Summary-a.pdf

2 The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reached the agreement with the University of Montana under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit sex discrimination in education programs, including sexual assault and harassment. The Department of Justice negotiated the agreements with the University’s Office of Public Safety and the Missoula Police Department and under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.  More information about the statutes enforced in these investigations is available on the Division’s website at http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/police.php (discrimination by law enforcement) and http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/edu/ (discrimination in education).