Help Beautify the Alliance

The Action Alliance is moving to a new location and you can help us create a welcoming space, stay environmentally healthy, display the Art of Surviving permanently, and keep the O2 flowing…

Click here to support our new environment:  Move the Alliance!!!

1. The Art of Surviving is a favorite exhibit and we want to be able to install it permanently in the office. We need some help with funding the installation. An $1000 gift creates a beautiful gallery in our new site of survivor art.

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picture: IdealKIt

 

2. Keeping It Cool: The Alliance needs a new fridge, with the increase in hotline staff and 24 hour services we will have more people serving our members. We are seeking to raise $800 for a large size fridge.

3. Welcoming You: We will have an entryway to welcome folks and need to furnish it. Comfy chairs, a table, and some greenery should do it. With a $500 donation, you can help us decorate!

 

4. Let’s Meet in Style:  We will have a separate library and meeting room now, so when you visit to attend meetings or to browse our library you can meet or read in comfort. $100 purchases one chair and we need 12 of them!

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5. Blinded by the Light: The Hotline will have more windows in our new spot and need blinds to help with privacy. $50 donations will be added together to bring privacy to our hotline team.

6. Gold for Green, Help us be green in our cleaning!  You can donate $25 a month to help with cleaning products. The Action Alliance staff is stepping up to do the cleaning themselves and we want to be green while doing it!

 

 

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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 kmccord@vsdvalliance.org

For The Last Child

On the first day of October Artemis House Staff began their celebration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Northern Virginia PRIDE Festival (NOVA PRIDE). We tabled and mingled, networked and shared cards, and felt the energy and joy of safe spaces. Near the end of my shift at our resource table a blended family stopped to learn more about Artemis House services, and as we began to converse I felt hopeful that I was speaking with “The Last Child.”

picture2In September, at a membership meeting for Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (Action Alliance) a group of advocates invested in the anti-violence movement were tasked with identifying a “North Star”, a potential guiding statement for Action Alliance work. Though the process was difficult, this gathering of diverse people agreed that what gave us hope when the work makes us weary is the shared idea that we have committed ourselves to creating safe spaces until “the last child” is able to live free of violence and oppression.

Since leaving Richmond I have carried the hope that I am working towards the day of “the last child” with me everywhere. The last child has been to all of the Artemis House staff, Domestic Violence task force, and budget meetings this month. I see them take shape in our monthly review of data and program reports. I look for “the last child” in daily interactions with community partners, friends, loved ones, and strangers. This child reveals their self in the gaps of our data, the conflict and resolution in each meeting, and fellowship with others to remind me that there will be an end to our work.

On that day at NOVA PRIDE I was relieved to find hope in these children while discussing their experiences with violence and their love of Artemis, goddess of fertility and the wilderness. Unknowingly they shared a few truths of what the last child needs from those of us invested in this work: a seat at the table (inclusion); a voice in the dialogue (representation); a safe place for disclosure (accessibility); and unshakable support during post-traumatic growth (advocacy).

“Success is not one more woman in shelter, one more man in jail, one more child in foster care.”  

–Sandra Camacho

Most importantly I was reminded that the last child needs our investment in the anti-violence movement to be extended outside of our typical 9-5 work day. They require that we challenge our privilege in safe places so that they too may be included while maintaining awareness of our differences to increase representation. Though Domestic Violence Awareness Month has ended for this year, Artemis House staff will continue our investment in increasing the awareness and reach of the anti-violence movement until we meet “the last child.”

Raven Dickerson is the Director of Artemis House, a program of Shelter House Inc. Artemis House is Fairfax County’s only 24 hour emergency shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, and stalking. For more information on Artemis House services and opportunities to volunteer or donate contact us at (703) 435-4940.

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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 colson@vsdvalliance.org

Governing Body Members Take Action! to Raise Funds

During the month of October, the Governing Body of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance decided to raise $4,000 for the cause to end sexual and domestic violence. As they are spread around the state, they decided to hold neighborhood parties or go viral with an online giving circle.

And they succeeded, by raising just over the goal of $4,000. Kudos and many thanks to our awesome governing body members:

Kathleen Demro, Gena Boyle, Sanu Dieng, Michelle Hensley, Becky Lee, Jennifer Bourne, Judy Casteele, Frank Charbonneau, Joni Coleman, Marva Dunn, Janett Forte, Ted Heck, Sheree Hedrick, Claudia Muniz, Claire Sheppard, and Tabitha Smith.

 

 

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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 colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

Meet Nina Aristy

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
There are endless reasons why I choose to do this form of work, and honestly the list gets progressively longer as I continue to do this work. I guess if we get to the core of it all I find comfort in the idea that nobody is alone and everyone is heard, therefore by doing this work I am working into that thought.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
That is a tough one. I think I have hit the backspace button too many times trying to get the wording right, because in all honesty I want to learn everything. I want to learn from the ground up on assisting individuals on a personal level (like all the folks in the hotline do so gracefully and empathetically). I would like to learn how we use that hotline data and then compound that into policy that will ultimately create safer spaces for victims. I want to learn how we communicate that to public in a matter that makes them impassioned and part of the movement. Basically I want to learn how to help. How I can make that chain of events that creates change, happen. I know it is a lot and most likely will not fit into my first year at this job, but I at least want those building blocks.

oscar-waoWhat is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it?
The latest book I have read is The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and I would absolutely recommend this book. I am a very proud Dominican, and I think if you want to get to know more about Dominican culture and history this is a nice introduction. Also, it is a very quick read, so if you are up for some laughs and a few tears and a genuine tale of a Dominican life both for natives and immigrants- this pretty much has that.

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
I would probably be garlic. During the Winter I have to be far and away from the cold because I am easily frozen. I blossom in the Spring and always seem to show up in a group (I come from a big family so being alone is never an option). I am involved in a lot of things, just like garlic is involved in almost every meal.  I am not the biggest vegetable, but I do pack a punch in flavor (so I am notably unforgettable).

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  1. The lifetime full of memories I have made here with the people that became my family.
  2. The food. Honestly, I have gained about 10 pounds since I got here and I do not regret a single bite that has lead me to gaining it.
  3. The advisers and mentors I have had that have supported and guided me.

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If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
I would put my boyfriend, my whole family (especially my beautiful nephew), all my friends, and my doggies

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen?
I guess this is sort of cheating, but at the same time it does answer the question. The most incredible view I have ever seen is always changing because it is moment, not particularly a fixed place or person. These moments happen very rarely and spontaneously, for me it has happened only a handful of times. It is this moment where you feel like everything is just right. You are with the right people and the right mindset and everything just comes into focus. For me this has happened while singing in cartoon voices with my partner during a 6 hour drive at midnight. It has happened while surrounded by my friends in my college living room just telling past stories of our lives. Those moments where I do not need a picture or a journal entry to remind me of what I felt, who was there, or what was said in order for me to picture that exact moment in its entirety. Those for me are the most incredible views I have ever seen.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
I am excited to get to know everyone and help in different tasks and projects. I am just very excited to get to learn from everyone here.

Nina recently graduated from the University of Richmond with a BA in Political Science. She minored in Women’s Studies and Latin American studies. Currently, she is studying for her LSATs and aspires to do legal assistance and advocacy for sexual and domestic violence victims. 

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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 colson@vsdvalliance.org

Meet Dominique Colbert

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
There are so many people out there who are either too afraid to ask for help or who do not realize they are in a situation where they may need help. It was because of others’ Anti-violence work that I was able to recognize what was wrong in a past relationship of mine, remove myself from the situation, and build myself back up. I just want to be able to be that for others who may be in violent situations.

What is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it?
The latest book I have read was titled “The Dream Giver.” I would recommend it. It is split into two parts which both highlight the journey of following your dreams. The first part is a fable which highlights the trials that come with the decision to leave your comfort zone and follow your dreams as well as their solutions. The second part explains the fable and relates it to real life situations.

cornIf you were a vegetable what would you be? 
If I were a vegetable, I would be corn. I just love corn. It is so sweet and no matter where it travels it pretty much stays in its original form. If you think about it too hard, it encourages you to remain true to who you are no matter what environment you’re in.

 

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  1. I love RVA. I love Richmond because it has given me the best 4 years of my life so far. I went to school here, I learned so much about myself and others here. I love the culture and all the beautiful scenery here.
  2. I love that Virginia is on the coast so the beach is never too far away.
  3. I love that Virginia is has so many beautiful views that are yet, so versatile; from mountains to grassy fields, rivers and lakes to beautifully lit cities.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
Evolving and Resolving – (Becoming a better person every day through learning from others; Using what I learn to resolve bits of my past)

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
I would imagine it to be a pretty large box. Maybe a house-sized box.. made of brick.. with cutouts for sunlight and openings for others to enter and exit. I have a lot of stuff, I’m attached to it all, and since there was no size limit placed on the box, I would try to bring all of my belongings. If I had to choose the most important things however, I would bring my laptop which has all of my films and written pieces on it, a few cozy items from my closet, a few good books I own but have yet to read, and some dog accessories/food to attract the puppy I would want with me but do not yet have.

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen?
The most incredible view I have ever seen was in Miami. It was more of a series of views, like a video. I was looking out the window of an Uber. It was super late, yet everything was still lit up; the buildings and the people. Everything was just so active and I absolutely loved it. 

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance?
I am so excited to learn new ways to help those in sexual and/or domestic violence situations. It means so much to me to be able to provide the tools for them to have a choice in their next step. So many people are not able to see a choice beyond enduring the abuse and I want to give them the chance to see things differently.

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Dominique is a Hotline Crisis Services Specialist at the Action Alliance as well as an Intern for the Real Story journalism internship. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a B.A. in African American Studies. She is an aspiring filmmaker and loves to create as well as watch others’ creations on the big screen.

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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 colson@vsdvalliance.org

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone to Protect Your Children’s Comfort

It is often said that growth lies on the other side of our comfort zone. It seems like every success story speaks about the great change that came about once the decision was made to step outside of the familiar. Sometimes we choose to step out of our comfort zone and sometimes we are pushed out. The latter is how some parents feel upon recent news coverage.

trumpsmallTo catch you up, over the past week, Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump has been under fire for comments he was recorded making some years back. In the recording, Trump describes sexually assaulting women in a tone that implies he sees nothing wrong with it. He alludes that he can do whatever he  wants to a woman because of his celebrity status. The presidential candidate was recorded bragging about his attempt to coerce a married woman into having sex with him, kissing women without waiting for their consent, and grabbing them by their vaginas, again, without consent.

 

 

The reason some parents are wary of the news coverage is the awkward situation it creates at home when kids are exposed to such a topic. However, these sorts of situations provide the perfect opportunity  for parents to step outside of  your comfort zone and talk to your children about consent: how to ask for and give consent, and how to recognize when it is or is not being given.

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picture credit: ChicagoNow

 

It may be awkward for both parties to begin, but the more it is discussed the easier it will become to speak about comfortably. Whether or not consent is spoken about in the home, children will learn about it. However, it is up to parents to openly and regularly speak with their children to ensure they are getting the right information regarding consent. If the conversation begins when they are young, it can shape the way they go on to view sexuality.

 

 

The Ask. Listen. Respect video and the Teach Consent website are here to help. These resources were created by the Action Alliance to help parents start conversations with your children about consent. Check out the downloadable Parent Discussion Guide here.

Dominique is a Hotline Crisis Services Specialist at the Action Alliance as well as an Intern for the Real Story journalism internship. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a B.A. in African American Studies. She is an aspiring filmmaker and loves to create as well as watch others’ creations on the big screen.

The Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Statewide Hotline is available 24/7/365 as are its live chat and texting options.

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

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

Shelter a Pet, Save a Life

Did you know that 2/3 of all households have pets? That is a lot of people. Did you also know that people have in fact died because the places they sought refuge from would or could not shelter their pets?

Remember Hurricane Katrina and the startling images of people forced to abandon their pets or of people who refused to leave their pets behind?  This catastrophe led to a shift in how service systems responded to families with pets in times of crisis.

Yet we have a long way to go, especially in Virginia where very few shelters accept pets. We can change this.

logo3-smWe recently had the privilege of having renowned animal advocate and founder of Sheltering Animals and Families Together, Allie Phillips Esq., present a webinar on how shelters can work towards sheltering the pets of survivors of sexual and domestic violence. During the webinar, Allie shared that she gets many emails daily from survivors asking for help in leaving an abusive situation – help that involves NOT leaving their pets behind to be tortured, killed, or abused. To have to choose between their own safety and that of a beloved pet is one that no one should have to make.

Understandably, some shelters have concerns about costs and the practicality of actually allowing pets in their residences. Many of these concerns were addressed in Allie’s webinar and she offers real-life examples of shelters who are making it work all over the country. Funding issues, vet care, physical accommodations and more are addressed in the webinar. Allie does an excellent job of breaking down the myths and all the reasons why it’s not possible to all the ways it IS possible.

We encourage everyone to take 1 hour and watch this resource-packed webinar and make plans to change how intake and safety planning are done so that pets are part of the equation. Get your communities involved as well! Everyone from vets, to animal shelters, to animal control, to law enforcement, to churches and more have a vested interest in saving the lives of survivors who just want to keep their pets with them and safe.

To illustrate the dire need for us to act, consider quotes from actual survivors:

“I stayed alive over a fish. When I had nothing else, I had a fish. It kept me going.

“If I had known about [this pet housing program] ahead of time, that would have saved my animals through the years that I’ve lost because of my abuser.”

The recorded version of the webinar is here. And if you are interested in doing more, reach out to us at training@vsdvalliance.org. We would love to exchange ideas, resources, and plans so that we can all work together to serve more survivors with pets.

Laura Bennett is the Training Institute Coordinator for the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She is the mother of 2 girls, 4 cats, and 3 dogs. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years and is passionate about helping nonprofits build their capacity to carry out their missions. A native of New York state, she is happy to be living in the warm South.

To check out the conferences and training that Laura helps produce, click here.

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

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

Statewide Hotline Launch

Sexual and intimate partner violence are serious public health and safety issues. While huge strides have been made in our response to sexual and intimate partner violence in the past 30 years, many victims suffered decades of silence, fear, and isolation in a society that failed to acknowledge the seriousness of violence against women. With limited social support and little resources, survivors had few options for safety and support. Confidentiality and privacy are an essential element to providing safety and respectful advocacy services. Rape crisis and domestic violence hotlines quickly became a vital, confidential resource for survivors to share their stories, seek help, and organize for change. Hotlines continue to be a vital service for breaking through the silence and isolation and connecting individuals to resources and essential services.

We are celebrating the re-branding and expansion of our Statewide Hotline. The Statewide Hotline provides direct access 24/7/365 to experts with specialized training in sexual and domestic violence who provide lifesaving, trauma-informed services and practical tools for safety and healing.

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Within our Statewide Hotline, we host the LGBTQ Helpline in collaboration with the Virginia Anti-Violence Project, the PREA hotline in collaboration with the Department of Corrections, and serve our 64 member Rape Crisis Centers and Domestic Violence Shelters to host or back up their hotlines.

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

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

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

Meet Cortney Calixte

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
For some reason Anti-Violence work has appeared in my life over the years in one way or the other and no matter what my other interest may be, I find myself in the same place. So, I think there is a reason for being here and I am going to take in as much knowledge I can and hopefully I can help something or someone in the process of figuring it out.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job?
I want to be a sponge and I want to be able to provide the necessary services to the places that need them.

What is the latest book you’ve read and would you recommend it?
Dreams of my Father– Barack Obama. I related to Barack’s struggle to be his authentic self in a position and in a society where being black can cause you to have more than one identity because you are in fear that your authentic self is not a safe space.

 

Describe the magazines on your coffee table?
I would normally have random knowledge books on my coffee table. Books that tell you why ancient society’s made batteries out of clay pots. Random information and conversation starters.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
My whole life and all of my experiences. You didn’t say how big or small the box could be.

 

 

What would be the title of your autobiography?

“I don’t know how I got here but I’m going to make the most of it: A guide to learning when you are lost.”

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen?
Whatever I am looking at when I wake up.  No amount of anything can explain that.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
The opportunity to be a part of an organization that sees the need for a better life and a safe life for people facing violence.

Cortney Calixte is an intern at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence. She is working toward her Master’s in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

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

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

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:

IDENTIFICATION: 

  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?

NOTIFICATION: 

  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?

REMOVAL/STORAGE:

  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?

RETURN:

  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:  http://efsgv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Removal-Report-Updated-2-11-16.pdf

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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 khall@vsdvalliance.org 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.

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

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org