Monday, November 3, 2014

Ending Domestic Violence Year-Round

By Shaina Brown, Public Affairs and Communications Associate, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

As we close out Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am moved to remember that our work never stops. Domestic Violence Awareness Month, like Sexual Assault Awareness Month, does not have a shelf life of 30 days. The work of advocates, the experiences of survivors, and the dedication of state agencies is not limited to one month a year. Rather, we are dedicated to ending violence 365 days a year.

The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault works with partners like the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence to advance the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence in unison. Together, we are stronger and are more poised for success as we develop funding, advocate for legislation, and create programs to support survivors.

Shaina Brown speaks at the Suited for Successful Families donation turnover event
CALCASA was honored to be recognized with CalVCP’s “Excellence in Victims’ Rights Award” during the Suited for Successful Families event at the Capitol on Wednesday. The event partners raised over 7,000 pieces of clothing that has been donated to local domestic violence agencies to empower families! We applaud CalVCP for their dedication and we hope that we will take the success and inspiration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and harness it for positive change every day!


Shaina Brown is responsible for managing strategic communications and providing analysis on legislative issues related to sexual violence for the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Shaina has a background in public affairs, media relations and grants management. Shaina joined the movement to end sexual violence in 2009, serving as a volunteer for Jeans 4 Justice, a San Diego based social change organization.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Melissa Melendez: State Needs Tougher Domestic Violence Laws

By Melissa Melendez, California State Assemblymember (R—Lake Elsinore)

Over the last month, America’s favorite sport has provided a spotlight on one of America’s oldest cultural blemishes – domestic violence.

The catalysts and reasons for domestic violence are numerous. For some, it is a part of a broader struggle with substance abuse, while for others it is just the way that they were raised.

The very sad fact remains that people are abused because their abuser knows that not only are they likely to get away with it, but that the consequences – both legal and societal – are not large concerns.

Let me speak plainly. That last fact is our fault.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

There’s a reason you cannot get away from the story of Ray Rice, NFL running back who assaulted his then-fiancĂ© and now-wife. Why has the video been played and replayed, and the incident rehashed over and over, across social media, print media, and television outlets? Yes, Rice is a multimillionaire and celebrity sports figure. But there is a bigger picture explanation: the issue resonates with people.

Domestic violence (DV) affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men. DV victims make up over one-fourth of CalVCP applications annually. It’s a pervasive problem that takes victims of any age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background, and it needs to be more effectively addressed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reaching Victims in the Social Sphere

What do the 1.3 billion active Facebook users have in common? Or the 645 million Twitter, 300 million LinkedIn, and 200 million Instagram users? They make themselves reachable. Marketers have known this for years, and have taken advantage by aggressively targeting consumers through their social media networks. There is no doubt that social media provides great potential to reach specific audiences, and the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) is demonstrating how government agencies can tap into this digital dialogue to better serve their citizens.

CalVCP processes over 50,000 applications for services to victims and survivors of crime each year, an average of almost 1,000 each week. Still, nearly half of violent crimes are never reported — that’s almost 50% of victims who are not represented in published statistics. How can we reach these hidden populations? Enter social media. While CalVCP continues to conduct traditional outreach through advertising, PSA's, event participation and the like, we recognize the importance of joining the online discussion to better assist victims of crime.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stand With Your Neighborhood on National Night Out


Tonight, on the 31st anniversary of National Night Out (NNO), communities and neighborhoods across the nation will stand together to promote crime prevention awareness, safety, and neighborhood unity. August 5th is “America’s Night Out Against Crime,” an annual observance highlighting the importance of police-community partnerships and citizen involvement in our fight for a safer nation.

The National Night Out campaign is designed to:
  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
National Night Out 2013 brought together over 37.8 million people in 16,242 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. NNO activities include front porch vigils, block parties, cookouts, parades, festivals, visits from local officials and law enforcement, safety fairs, and youth events. National Night Out 2014 is expected to be the largest yet.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse in California

By Heidi Richardson, Program Specialist, Sacramento County Adult Protective Services

A young woman and her 89 year-old great-grandmother, who barely weighed 90 lbs., entered the bank to withdraw cash from the older woman’s account. As they left, the teller watched the young woman treating the older woman harshly while impatiently pushing her into the car. The teller reviewed the account and found suspicious transactions. She reported her concerns to APS. When APS visited the home, they found a malnourished and isolated woman with serious untreated medical conditions and almost no food in the home. She required hospitalization.

The National Elder Mistreatment Study found that one in ten adults over age 65 reported experiencing at least one form of mistreatment — emotional, physical, sexual or potential neglect — in the past year.
The case described above is an example of a report investigated by Adult Protective Services (APS). In fiscal year 2012/13, APS programs in California received 125,653 reports of financial abuse, physical abuse, neglect, isolation, abandonment, abduction, and psychological abuse of elders and dependent adults. County APS agencies investigate these reports and arrange for services such as advocacy, counseling, money management, out-of-home placement, or conservatorship. APS can connect victims with medical providers, community services, and trusted family members in hopes of helping the older or dependent adult regain their health and independence.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beyond the Physical Damage of Violent Crime

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

It has been said that pain and suffering are natural elements of the universal human condition. Most of us will experience some degree of trauma in our lifetime, but our responses to that trauma will vary significantly based on a variety of factors including genetics, disposition, temperament, and early home life. Mental health professionals cannot pinpoint a single, universal reason that some victims display more resilience to the crippling effects of trauma; however, they do know that there is a strong link between violent crime and ensuing psychological distress. For this reason, mental health services can be a critical resource for victims.

On the heels of recent tragedies like the Isla Vista shooting and the Reynolds High attack in Troutdale, OR, it is certainly important to consider the factors that may cause criminal conduct and to address the role of our mental health system in violence prevention; yet, it is equally important to address the well-being of victims and to recognize the host of mental health challenges they face as a result of violent crime.

Over one-third of California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) payouts are mental health-related. Last year, the program provided over $21 million to crime victims for mental health expenses alone, proof that physical injury is far from the only major impact of violent crime.

CalVCP Staff Psychologist Dr. James Kent explains that violent crime leaves behind not just tangible scars, but also serves as a mental reminder that the world isn’t as orderly and safe as we’d like to believe. As victims attempt to cope with the aftermath of a violent crime, they may experience debilitating psychological and emotional effects that persist long after physical wounds have healed. According to Dr. Kent, symptom responses can include anxiety, depression, diminished self-esteem, self-fault, increased dependence, feelings of incompetence. Victimization can also result in shock, numbness, denial, hyper-vigilance, anger or irritability, detachment or estrangement of others, memory loss or forgetfulness, sleeping disorders, and recurring flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. Child victims have been known to suffer long-term mental health effects leading to poor academic performance, aggression, antisocial behavior, and substance abuse.

CalVCP is dedicated to assisting victims with expenses related to inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment that is necessary as a direct result of a qualifying violent crime. In addition, minors who suffer emotional injuries from witnessing a violent crime may be eligible for up to $5,000 in mental health counseling. This filing status can be especially valuable in instances such as school shootings, when a minor witness is not related to the victim but was in close proximity to the crime. By providing financial assistance and resources, CalVCP strives to promote healing and allow victims the opportunity to restore their lives to their fullest potential.


To learn more about the mental health benefits available through CalVCP, watch our Victim Services Talk Series (Ep. 4, "Mental Health Services for Victims") or visit our Victim Issues webpage.


Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.