Meet Trisha Smith

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
My involvement with anti-violence work falls under special interests I have related to trauma, grief, psychological adjustment, and brain injury as a result of physical violence. I am particularly interested in the process that transforms individuals into reaching their optimal potential and high levels of well-being.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I would love to expand my knowledge on the diverse set of issues faced by survivors of violence as well as to further develop my lens of empathetic understanding and ways of expressing it through counseling techniques.

What is the latest book you’ve read and would you recommend it?
I have only just started reading; The Brain That Changes Itself. It is a very interesting read so far, and it is brain-related so of course I would recommend it!

images (4).jpgIf you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
I would be a tomato, because there is an idea of ambiguity often tied to it: is it a fruit or a vegetable? Toe-may-toe or ta-ma-toe? It connects to my liking of abstract ideas and belief that no absolute truth exists.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  • Northern Virginia area,
  • scenery in the Shenandoah Valley (e.g. Skyline Drive), and
  • Richmond.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
Pictures of my girlfriend (Chelsea) and dog (Bentley), headphones, and my laptop.

What is the most incredible view you’ve ever seen?
Beaches of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
Working as a part of the hotline team, I am looking forward to “holding space” for callers and equipping them with resources and tools. I am also looking forward to ways in which I might be of value in expanding hotline services in the future. In terms of the Action Alliance as a whole, I am excited to explore the different caucuses that exist as well as engage in discussions with coworkers related to intersectionality, oppression, and anti-violence.

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

Trisha is a crisis hotline specialist with the Action Alliance. Trisha uses the pronouns she/her/they. She is currently a second-year student in the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Master’s program at VCU and hopes to someday become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Trisha is completing an internship with the Department of Counseling at Safe Harbor, in addition to an with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. 


Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

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New Law: Person’s Subject to a “permanent” Protective Order

As of July 1, 2016, a new law went into effect: 

Persons subject to a “permanent” Protective Order may not possess a firearm.

 What does this mean? Here are answers to frequently asked questions: 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is this legislation significant?

Domestic violence and firearms are a lethal combination. This new law is a critical step forward in limiting access to guns for perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

The new legislation brings Virginia in line with current federal law, which has prohibited for decades possession of a firearm for persons subject to protective order.  The problem is that it was virtually unenforceable at the state level because only federal law enforcement and prosecutors have the authority to act on federal law. This meant that it was very difficult—if not nearly impossible—to effectively remove guns from perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

The legislation provides an additional safety measure for victims choosing to seek a Family Abuse Protective Order against someone who owns a gun.  Prior to this legislation, there was no impetus on localities to address the presence of firearms in domestic violence.  The new law provides law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts a new tool for removing firearms from these dangerous situations and demands systemic action to ensure that violations of the law are enforced.

This policy alone will not eliminate intimate partner homicides, but it is an important and necessary step to reducing these preventable deaths.


2. What does the legislation do?

Prior to the new law, persons subject to a “permanent” Protective Order were prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, but not prohibited from keeping firearms they already had in their possession.

The new law prohibits possession of a firearm for persons subject to a “permanent” Family Abuse Protective Order (the type issued after a hearing and lasting up to 2 years). Respondents have 24 hours to sell or transfer all guns or face being charged with a felony.

3. What does the legislation not do?

The new law only applies to “permanent” Family Abuse Protective Orders.

The new law does not apply to:

  • emergency or preliminary Family Abuse Protective Orders;
  • emergency, preliminary or “permanent” Acts of Violence Protective Orders issued by the General District Court. The “Acts of Violence” protective orders are not intended to address domestic violence.  They apply to situations where the individuals are not current family or household members, or are not former family and household members with a child in common.

The new law does not provide a plan for implementation.  It does not prescribe or layout a process for the voluntary or involuntary removal/surrender of firearms. It also does not describe a process for safely and lawfully returning firearms after the Protective Order has expired.

4. What issues should your community be discussing regarding implementation?

Because the new law goes into effect July 1, 2016 and does not tell localities “how” to make it happen, it is important that localities begin having discussions about how the new law will be implemented.  Below are a few key issues to consider:


  1. How will the courts identify respondents who possess a firearm?
  2. Will judges ask about respondents during the protective order hearing whether or not they possess firearms?
  3. Will petitioners be asked if the respondent owns a firearm? Will they be asked during the hearing?  Will a question be included on the petition?


  1. How will respondents be informed that they are prohibited from possessing a firearm? Verbally?  In writing?
  2. Will respondents be notified at the time of issuance? At service? Both?


  1. There are numerous methods for removal: voluntary surrender, search and seize or a hybrid of the two. What removal options will be used?
  2. Will respondents be ordered to surrender firearms by the courts? To whom?
  3. What follow up is in place to ensure surrender/removal? Will the courts hold a review hearing to ensure removal within 24 hours?
  4. Will law enforcement inquire about firearms at service and allow voluntary surrender at time of service?
  5. Will law enforcement have the authority to search and seize at service of the order?
  6. What role can a respondent’s attorneys have in surrender and compliance?
  7. Once firearms have been surrendered or removed, where will they be stored and by whom? Law enforcement? Third party?  Firearm dealer?
  8. What is the process for storage? Receipt for firearms—proof of surrender? Fee for storage? Liability issues re: damage while in storage?
  9. What qualifications or procedures are needed for third party storage?
  10. What happens to unclaimed firearms?


  1. What, if any, process will be in place to notify petitioners if firearms are returned?
  2. What, if any, process will be in place to ensure firearms are lawfully returned? For example, not returned to a prohibited party?

For more information on the above, including best practices from other states:


picture: DCJS

5. What’s next?

Key stakeholders will be convening soon to discuss numerous issues surrounding the effective implementation of the new law and to develop guidelines to assist localities. In the meantime, we encourage localities to consider policy, procedural and practice changes needed to enforce this new law to protect victims and help respondents comply.

Questions? Contact:  Kristine Hall at or 804-377-0335

Kristine Hall is the Policy Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She has supported Anti-Violence work for over 20 years.


Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call804.377.0335

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Meet Rachael Kaufman 

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?  
I think that anyone who experiences a violent crime (whether sexual, emotional or physical) deserves to be believed and supported. I want to be part of the movement that is advocating for survivors of specifically sexual and domestic violence to be heard and supported by their friends, families, communities, and institutions with which they interact following their experience.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I want to learn anything and everything from my peers and supervisors who have been doing this work for much longer than I have. I am specifically interested in learning more about the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) hotline and the LGBTQ+ Helpline, as I am less familiar working with those populations.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it? 
I would put in a few favorite books, my hammock, and all my camping gear just in case of the next apocalypse.


What is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it? 
The last book I read is called the Vegetarian by Han Kang, which is about a Korean woman who wakes up one day after a nightmare and decides to be a vegetarian. Subsequently, she suffers persecution from her family, doctors, and society at large. I would recommend this book because I literally had no idea what was going on the whole time I was reading the novel; however, after lots of thinking and googling, I began to understand the narrative’s complex critique on bodily autonomy, cultural norms, and vegetarianism. It is a fascinating, exciting, and short read that will definitely keep you guessing. TW: sexual/domestic violence

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why? 
I would be spaghetti squash because it is super fascinating and cool because it looks just like a regular squash but then it produces great faux-noodles. I would love to aspire to be a fascinating and cool person, and like the spaghetti squash, I have some hidden talents.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia? 
I love, in no particular order…

  • the incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley,
  • all the murals throughout Richmond, and
  • the colonial reenactors at the WAWA in Williamsburg

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen? 
The best view I have ever seen is when I was backpacking in Australia. During our final day of our 30 day excursion, we climbed up a huge plateau where we had an expansive view of the entire Kimberley region which is almost completely uninhabited. There are rolling grasslands and I could see crazy Australian wildlife like kangaroos hopping around. As an added bonus, there was a huge waterfall at the top which housed awesome swimming holes that were super cold despite the 100+ degree heat.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
I am so excited to be a part of an organization that holistically addresses the issue of domestic and sexual violence in Virginia. I am so excited to learn more about the Action Alliance’s training and advocacy opportunities, while also being able to do direct service on the hotline.


Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

Rachael is a student at VCU working on her Master in Social Work, hoping to ultimately find a career working with college students on preventing and addressing the issue of sexual violence of their campuses. During her undergraduate time at William and Mary, Rachael studied Anthropology, which was an incredibly fun, although not the most practical, major. She was able to complete a honors thesis for her major about discourse surrounding sexual violence, analyzing how language about sexual violence affected the attitudes and behaviors of students and staff on campus. In her free time, Rachael loves to color in her adult coloring book while watching the newest Netflix show she has found. She is also an outdoor and travel enthusiast, having been to 6 out of the 7 continents for different outdoor adventures. She is still hoping to check off Antarctica one day! 


Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email


The Light of Moons Above

Richard Wright’s poetic description of leaving the South to “see if it can grow differently …respond to the warmth of other suns and, perhaps, to bloom” could not be more resonant than at this cultural moment. His words speak to a longing for opportunity that has been fleeting for many of us, particularly Black folk. Wright’s imagery also reflects the profound uncertainty that is widely-felt and the collective fragility that it exposes that we can no longer deny. Right now, we live within a world where it hurts to exist, and yet,

shaman imageThis week the Action Alliance hosts the Warmth of Other Suns Conference, of which the title’s significance looms large. I am humbled to be part of a supportive gathering for survivors and advocates. Our intention to hold healing space, which calls upon Richard Wright’s cautious hopefulness, imprints on my soul as a Black folk healer. While the promise of the Great Migration for our fore-mothers has not been fulfilled, our commitment to their liberation, and that of our own and our children’s remains resolute.

My hope is that our communion can invite the The Light of the Moons Above. It is, by contrast to Wright’s vision, a metaphor for healing wherever you are. Indigenous Black traditions, like other nature-based spirituality’s, associate the moon with transformative feminine power.

richaelMother Moon ushers in the deep intimacy of night-time where we encounter all of our shadow selves. Her great luminosity gifts us privacy for our suffering, opportunity for refuge, and means for escape. Her vessel represents the “dark night of the soul” but too, affords us a cycle for reflection and preparation. Moon’s medicine aided my enslaved ancestors to survive and her energies will continue our healing today across time and space.

Whether we follow the sun or moon, we can be assured that a search for realities better than the ones we occupy is a wise strategy against the backdrop of such an explosively vulnerable period. I look forward to bringing together our power, resilience, and wisdom in service to bloom.

Richael Faithful will be speaking at the Warmth of Other Suns Conference this week. You can find out more information here.

Richael Faithful is an African-American healer raised in Virginia. She/They serves as Shaman-in-Residence at Freed Bodyworks, a body-positive wellness center based in Washington DC, and birthed Conjure! Freedom Collective, a group of creative healers committed to healing trauma from U.S. slavery, ending racial caste, and building a love politic. Her/their main areas of practice are energy healing, spiritual counseling, and sacred drumming. Faithful, before her/their integration as a traditional healer, was a community organizer and peoples’ civil rights lawyer.

*All pictures courtesy of Richael Faithful.


Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

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