Texas Victim Services Association   A professional organization for Victim Service Providers


Victim Services in the news...
  • 25 Apr 2013 8:44 AM | Michelle Richter
    The National Center for Victims of Crime is inviting adult survivors of child sexual abuse involving sexually explicit pictures or videos of the abuse (child pornography) to take an anonymous online survey about the response they received and the help victims need.

    The survey is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime. It asks about help survivors received, barriers to getting help, and suggestions for improving how victims of these crimes are treated by police, prosecutors, courts, and counselors. It also includes a few general questions about the crimes experienced. Participants are free to skip any questions they do not want to answer, and they will not be asked for any information that could identify them.

    For more information about this project, including a link to the online survey, visit www.victimsofcrime.org/child-pornography.

    Thank You!

  • 25 Apr 2013 8:41 AM | Michelle Richter

    Congrats to TAASA for being awarded as a 2013 National Crime Victims’ Service Recipient!


    Everyone is so grateful for TAASA’s mission and the dedication of and strategic thinking of its employees. You make us proud!


    OVC annually recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding service in supporting victims and victim services. The award recipients, who are selected from public nominations in nine categories, are extraordinary individuals, organizations, teams, and programs that provide services to victims of crime. The honorees are announced and honored at the National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony. Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs and US Attorney General Eric Holder, among other spoke at the awards ceremony.


    Pictures and more about the event: https://ovcncvrw.ncjrs.gov/Awards/AwardGallery/gallerysearch.html

  • 07 Apr 2013 5:28 PM | Michelle Richter

    Two important updates..


    First, federal funding amounts for VOCA are still undetermined and currently face risk of additional reductions.   Here are some details from the NAVAA.org website.  Attorney General Eric Holder informed Senate appropriators that the Justice Department will reprogram "donated" funds intended for grants (e.g. VOCA, VAWA, Byrne JAG grants, etc) to offset sequestration cuts to other DOJ components. The Attorney General has authority to reprogram up to 5 percent from among DOJ accounts. According to recent news reports, DOJ will transfer $150 million from some (still unknown) DOJ accounts to alleviate sequestration cuts to the Bureau of Prison. Although the exact amount is unknown, a transfer of the maximum 5 percent from the Crime Victims Fund would further redu! ce the amount available for VOCA programs.


    Worst case scenario, there is a potential 16.8% cut to VOCA grant programs.   Please call your US. Representative and Senators and ask that Eric Holder be pressured NOT to ‘donate’ funding intended for victim services.


    Second, HB 1229 (a bill to create a statewide campus sexual assault task force) was heard in committee yesterday.  There was some excellent testimony.  You can watch the recorded video here (you will need real player on your computer).  The testimony on HB 1229 starts at the 14 minute mark and includes some powerful survivor testimony around the 46 minute mark.



  • 23 Mar 2013 6:12 PM | Michelle Richter

    There has been a lot of movement regarding funding for rape crisis centers in the last couple of months.  There are still a lot of moving parts so most of this may change.  But here is the current status of funding for rape crisis centers:

    VOCA and VAWA (Governor’s Office)

    As a result of sequestration, VOCA and VAWA grants from the Governor’s office may be reduced by 5% starting Sept 1, 2013.  This is best guess, as the federal government has not passed a continuing resolution yet (although I hear they might have reached an agreement!).

    In addition, please make sure to check to if your home county (the county where your main o! ffice is) is on pace to be at or above 90% on reporting adult criminal history dispositions to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) by August 1, 2013. CJD will periodically post updated criminal history disposition reports on its website and will be sending monthly updates to regional councils of government.  You may locate the most recent list by going to the eGrants log-on screen and clicking on Updates and then Important Notices.  You may access the current list by clicking here.

    OAG – Victim Assistance Grants

    As you know, the CVC Fund is the revenue source for several types of victim assistance grants (SAPC! S-State, OVAG, CAC, CASA to name a few).  In the fall the OAG predicted a 57% cut to these grants because of declining balances in the CVC Fund.  In January, the legislature’s base bill restored the victim assistance grants 100%.  This is great news, but is subject to change until the budget is finalized and the legislative session ends (May 27, 2013). 

    That said, the victims assistance grants will most likely be effected by sequestration as some of the original source of funding is VOCA.  Grant reductions are still unknown, but could range from 5-10% as a result of sequestration.   

    OAG – RPE Funds (or SAPCS-Federal)

    Starting Sept 1, there will most likely be a more than 5% cut for SAPCS-Federal funds.  VAWA Reauthorization included a new formula fo r RPE distribution to the states that included baseline funding which ! means high population states will actually get a little less money since it is currently ALL population based rather than mostly population based.  

  • 01 Mar 2013 4:50 PM | Michelle Richter

    Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder on the House Passage of the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act


    Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the House passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act:


    “I am pleased that Congress has voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a landmark law that has transformed the way we respond to domestic and sexual violence.  This reauthorization includes crucial new provisions to improve our ability to bring hope and healing to the victims of these crimes, expand access to justice, and strengthen the prosecutorial and enforcement tools available to hold perpetrators accountable. 


    “Congress has also taken an historic step to finally close the loophole that left many Native American women without adequate protection.  With this bill, tribes and the federal government can better work together to address domestic violence against Native American women, who experience the highest rates of assault in the United States.  The bill also provides funding to improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault, ensuring that victims can access the services they need to heal.  And it will help to build on evidence-based practices for reducing domestic violence homicides and prevent violence against our nation’s children, teens, and young adults.


    “I applaud Congress for passing a bipartisan reauthorization that protects everyone – women and men, gay and straight, children and adults of all races, ethnicities, countries of origin, and tribal affiliations. The Department of Justice looks forward to implementing this historic legislation after it is signed into law.”


  • 01 Mar 2013 3:24 PM | Michelle Richter

    Department of Justice

    Office of Public Affairs

    Thursday, February 28, 2013



    Justice Department Announces More Than $12.6 Million in Grants to 20 Communities to Reduce Dating Violence


    The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW ) today announced $12.6 million dollars in grants awarded to 20 communities as part of a new, consolidated program designed to more effectively reduce dating violence . For the first time, grantees can implement a comprehensive approach to dating violence that includes services for victims, prevention programs, partnering with schools and engaging men and boys in ending violence against women . OVW combined four separate grant programs into one, enabling more efficient, effective work and responding to the call for bold new initiatives from The Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.


    Grantees of the Consolidated Grant Program to Address Children and Youth Experiencing Domestic and Sexual Violence and Engaging Men and Boys as Allies will provide services to children and youth exposed to violence, training for professionals to improve interventions and responses, coordinated school-based strategies, supportive services for non-abusing parents and coordinated community responses. The Program also supports 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.


    Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West announced the grants to a room full of high school and college students at a White House event commemorating Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.


    “Teen dating violence is about our community, our schools and our relationships. And that means it’s about us. Each one of us, as well as, importantly, those of us who are men,” Acting Associate Attorney General West said. “As fathers, brothers, coaches, teachers and classmates – men’s voices must be part of this conversation – as men, both young and old, this is our individual and collective responsibility.”


    Research shows that our nation’s teens and young adults experience particularly high rates of violence. One-in-ten 9th-12th grade students were physically hurt, on purpose, by a boyfriend or girlfriend in 2011. According to the latest CDC data, 80% of rape victims were raped for the first time before their 25th birthday. Many young people do not know where to turn for help. A 2008 study found that 67 percent of students who were abused in a relationship talked to a friend, but only 13 percent also talked to a parent or other adult.


    “Every year, millions of children and adolescents across the United States are victimized and exposed to violence in their homes and neighborhoods, and often suffer severe, long-term emotional and physical consequences,” said Acting Director of OVW Bea Hanson. “As we work to help keep our children safe, we must view prevention and intervention as intertwined, not separate and distinct. This grant program is an essential part of our vision for safe and healthy communities, places where young people can grow to their fullest potential.” 


    Grantees will receive awards ranging from $350,000 to $1,000,000 based on the scope of their projects.   The selected applicants are: Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Alaska; The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Alaska; Center for Hope and Healing, Mass.; Deaf Abused Women’s Network, Washington, D.C.; The Family Partnership, Minn.; Family Violence and Rape Crisis Services, N.C.;   Jenesse Center Inc., Calif.; Jewish Women International, Inc., Washington, D.C.; HOPE Works, Vt.; Mecklenburg County, N.C.;   Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis Inc., Conn.; Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Wash.; King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Wash.; Nashville Young Women’s Christian Association, Tenn.; Peace Over Violence, Calif.; Project Pave, Colo.;   SafeHaven of Tarrant County, Texas; Wiconi Wawokiya Inc., S.D.; Youth Organizations Umbrella Inc., Ill.; and YWCA Knoxville, Tenn.


     For more information on OVW and its programs, please visit: www.ovw.usdoj.gov .




  • 28 Feb 2013 12:34 PM | Michelle Richter

    VAWA (Senate Version S47) just passed the House. The vote was 286 yay, 138 nay.

    87 Republicans joined House Democrats to pass the bill.

  • 14 Feb 2013 4:47 PM | Michelle Richter

    NAESV ! Commends United States Senate on Passage of VAWA

    On behalf of 56 state and territorial sexual assault coalitions, over 1300 rape crisis centers, and the victims these centers serve every day, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) commends the United States Senate for the passage of S. 47 today--legislation that reauthorizes and strengthens the Violence Against Women Act. "The Senate's action today to pass VAWA sends a strong signal to advocates that our leaders truly care about all victims of violence. We are truly grateful to Senators Leahy and Crapo and each of the 78 Senators that voted for VAWA today," said Monika Johnson Hostler, Board President of NAESV. S. 47 includes a number of new measures to support a stronger criminal justice response to rape and the first-ever public housing protections for v ictims of sexual assault at the same time reauthorizing both service a! nd prevention programs to effectively address crimes of sexual violence. NAESV urges the House to move swiftly to pass a strong bipartisan VAWA bill that is informed by advocates and protects all victims.

    North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault

  • 23 Jan 2013 8:54 AM | Michelle Richter

    Violence Against Women Act Introduced!


    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)  introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) today with additional bipartisan co-sponsors. The legislation is almost identical to the bill that passed the Senate last year, including the same strong provisions to address sexual assault, except for a few minor changes:

    • The bill does not include the U-Visa increase that created procedural difficulties last year. It is hoped that this issue will be included in comprehensive immigration reform legislation later this year.
    • The bill also includes the bipartisan version of the SAFER Act that passed the Senate last year and addresses the backlog of sexual assault evidence.
    • The bill excludes some admendments added by t he Judiciary committee after introduction last year that did not relat! e directly to VAWA.

    Senators Leahy and Crapo will hold a press conference on Wednesday, January 23rd at 2:00 eastern to discuss the legislation, and NAESV Board President Monika Johnson Hostler will be speaking.

  • 21 Jan 2013 4:33 PM | Michelle Richter

    A very exciting move by the Air Force.  Bravo!


    Air Force to assign counsel for victims of sex assault

    By Jennifer Hlad

    Star! s and Stripes

    Published: January 9, 2013


    WASHINGTON – One of the first things a military prosecutor tells a victim of sexual assault is that he does not represent her, he represents the United States.

    It can be a jarring conversation for someone who might already feel disempowered, and having no one in their corner can exacerbate trauma symptoms from the attack, said Meg Garvin, executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute.

    Now, the Air Force is trying to change that dynamic. Starting Jan. 28, Air Force members and their adult dependents who report a sexual assault can have a specially trained military attorney assigned to them.

    Previously, the accused in a sexual assault case was assigned a military attorney to represent his or her interests, but the alleged victim was not.

    The victims’ atto! rneys will be “completely independent,” with loyalty and confidentiality for the victim, said Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, the Air Force Judge Advocate General. To maintain this independence, the attorneys will work under the Air Force Legal Operations Agency and will not be assigned from the same base where the victim is located.

    Victims who report a sexual assault in the military can choose to make their report restricted, which means the victim can receive care but will stay anonymous and not pursue a case against the attacker; or unrestricted. Either way, the victim will be assigned a sexual assault response coordinator and can request an attorney through the Special Victims’ Counsel program, Harding said.

    In fi! scal 2011, Harding said, 29 percent of Air Force victims who said they were willing to go forward with a case against their attackers declined to participate before the case reached court. He believes that many of those men and women change their minds because they are frustrated by the process and feel revictimized.

    “The idea here was to provide the best victim support we could, and we think the best victim support that you can provide would include a counsel for the victim,” Harding said. “What we hope to gain is fighting that sense of anxiety, that sense of revictimization, that sense of not understanding why certain things are happening.”

    Garvin, who helped in the creation of the program as well as the t raining of the military attorneys, said the program is “amazing,! incredible and progressive” – but also necessary.

    “We’ve known for a long time that crime is about power and disempowers you, and sexual assault in particular is about power,” she said. Giving victims an independent voice can alleviate trauma symptoms.

    Institutionalizing the program, as the Air Force is doing, helps change the process and the system, she said.

    Harding selected 60 Air Force attorneys from a list of nominations, and those attorneys will be able to help with everything from reassignment requests and non-contact orders to courts martial and appeals, he said. The att! orneys can help victims with issues related to collateral misconduct and privacy rights and can request testimonial immunity from the government.

    “We went out of our way to make sure we didn’t put walls around this thing,” he said. “The victims are Air Force members. … It is essential that we give them the very best care. That’s what one does in a family.”

    The news of the Special Victims’ Counsel program comes as a congressional panel is preparing to hold a hearing later this month about sexual abuse in the military, prompted by a scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Six trainers have been convicted and two dozen more removed and accused of abuses ranging from rape to inapprop riate relationships with recruits.

    The hearing is likely to begin Jan. 23.


    Twitter: @jhlad

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