Friday, June 26, 2015

Volunteers in Victim Assistance

It’s not like a job interview where you are able to prepare yourself for the future. You will never expect it to happen to you, and when it does, you probably won’t be prepared or mentally stable for the coming days, months, and years. No one expects to be a victim of violent crime, but in the unfortunate circumstance that violent crime does happen, Volunteers in Victim Assistance (VIVA) will be here for you.

“They can’t function, they can’t work, they can’t do anything,” says VIVA Executive Director Carole McDonald of crime victims. “They can be at a grocery store with a cart full of groceries and it hits, he’s never coming back again. The reality of what happened hits and that’s when they really need help.”

Located at 2020 Hurley Way in Sacramento, VIVA has been in operation under McDonald’s care for 32 years.

Crisis intervention, counseling, individual, family and group therapy, and advocacy are a few of the main services that VIVA offers. Their goal is to offer advocacy and therapy to anyone who walks through their door.

“They [victims] come in right after the crime takes place,” McDonald says. “They’re very confused, in shock, in the midst of funeral costs, and they have post-traumatic stress disorder. It takes a while to sink in.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Culture of Respect: When is it Enough?

By Allison Tombros Korman, Executive Director, Culture of Respect

An estimated one in five undergraduate women and one in sixteen undergraduate men experience attempted or completed sexual assault while attending college. Campus sexual assault is a decades-old problem affecting millions of young American women and men — a problem which is finally receiving the national attention it merits.


Many of the pieces necessary to change the culture on college and university campuses are in place. Pressure from survivors, student activists, the White House, the Justice and Education Departments, state governments, the press, documentary film makers, parents and the public have focused attention and demands on colleges and universities to acknowledge and deal with the problem of campus sexual assault. Colleges and universities should embrace this moment of awareness and combat campus sexual assault holistically and head-on.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The San Diego Family Justice Center: Providing Help and Hope to Victims of Family Violence

By the San Diego Family Justice Center

What do cancer and domestic violence have in common? Both are things you don’t want, erode your quality of life and are challenging issues without a single cure-all.

Fortunately, there’s good news. Just as modern cancer centers are staffed with highly trained oncologists and support specialists, a Family Justice Center attacks domestic violence in the same way; by treating the cause, not the symptoms — all in one location.

Founded in 2002, the San Diego Family Justice Center, located at 1122 Broadway, Suite 200 in downtown San Diego, is the first center in the world to co-locate all DV-related services under one roof. With the need to travel to multiple locations eliminated, this model significantly reduces the possibility of someone receiving conflicting advice from different service professionals.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Crime Victims' Rights Month: Commemorating 50 Years of Victim Services

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

Every April, the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) stands with our partners across the state in observance of California Crime Victims’ Rights Month, a time set aside for our state to show support for victims of violent crime, their families, and survivors. This year is even more significant as CalVCP commemorates its 50th year of serving victims of violent crime in California. And through our fifty years, we have been proud to have such great partners throughout the state to aid in providing services, protecting victims’ rights, and making a difference in the lives of thousands of victims of crime. Since 1965, CalVCP has provided over $2.3 billion in services, and we will continue to work with our partners to provide these services for our great state and the people who need them. It is fitting that this year’s theme is “Engaging Communities, Empowering Victims,” as it certainly reflects California’s commitment to increasing community awareness of crime victim issues and examining prevention and safety.

As a community, we must come together to ensure that victims and survivors of violent crime know they are not alone and that their community stands with them. People who have been impacted by violent crime should know that there is help available. We can all work together to ensure that those who commit a crime face justice. As a community, we will ensure that victims and survivors receive the care they need. We must educate those around us about the immediate and long-term impacts of crime and how we can better prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place. By engaging entire communities, we can better extend victim service resources to where they need to be and serve those who need them.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Family Justice Centers?

By Cherri N. Allison, Esq.

Imagine that you are a domestic violence victim and the mother of two small children under the age of ten. You have been in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for 12 years. You are a stay at home mom and your husband controls all of the family finances. You have just found out you are pregnant and are afraid to tell your spouse because the last time you did the violence escalated. You literally have nowhere to turn. The police have been to your home several times and you have been in the hospital emergency room more than once. Before the Alameda County Family Justice Center opened in 2005 you literally had to navigate dozens of agencies in a county that spans 821 square miles. You must maneuver a medical system; navigate criminal and civil legal systems, and a court system that is incomprehensible at best. At the same time you are experiencing extreme emotional and financial stress and the possibility of homelessness. There must be a better way!

Simply locating different organizations in one space is not necessarily innovative nor does it inspire systems change or movement building. However, when the people who lead those organizations and maintain those systems begin to reach across barriers, real or imagined, such as the language of disciplines, stereotypes and implicit bias, client service delivery changes. Letting go of the need to be right, demystifying program and systems content are at the core of the Family Justice Center model. We must make thinking outside the boundaries the norm and operate from a client centered, strength based perspective to implement systems change work that has positive implications for clients.

Monday, March 9, 2015

NO MORE Week

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

It is a sad reality, but sexual assault and domestic violence occur every day to the people around us — our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends. It seems that more and more of the headlines we see in the news are centered around these crimes. It has plagued the NFL, haunted celebrities, and ignited national attention and debate.

Today marks the beginning of #NOMOREWeek. A time when we all stand together and call for the end of domestic violence and sexual assault. It is a national effort to engage every community, individual, and organization to say NO MORE and to educate the public on how they can get involved and be part of the solution.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Activities Work to Break the Cycle of Violence

By Lindsay Sweetnam, Program Director, La Casa de las Madres

Over 38 years ago, in 1976, a dynamic coalition of Bay Area women gathered to found La Casa de las Madres, California’s first and the nation’s second shelter dedicated to women and children escaping domestic violence.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), when our Teen Program ramps up its year-round efforts and implements special programming to educate Bay Area youth about dating violence and the services available to those affected by it. Through activities at high schools and various community locations, public service announcements over the airwaves, social media, and more, La Casa is raising its voice: to empower youth to recognize abuse, to demand healthy relationships for themselves and their peers, and to reach out for help if it is needed.