Texas Victim Services Association   A professional organization for Victim Service Providers


Victim Services in the news...
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  • 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

  • 27 Nov 2012 5:15 PM | Michelle Richter

    Tree of Angels Events Across Texas & Oklahoma Now Posted on TVSA Calendar!

    The Tree of Angels event recognizes that the holiday season is a particularly difficult time for crime victims and their families whose lives forever have been touched by violent crime and is often a poignant reminder of the loss of a loved one or lives changed through the senseless violent act of another.  This special event honors surviving victims of crime and their families and will include special musical selections and the lighting of candles signifying Hope, Peace and Healing. 

    Families and friends are invited to bring an angel ornament to place on a special holiday Christmas tree.  This ceremony and the agencies represented support all victims of crime with compassion and assistance to recover from their trauma, pain and sorrow.  The Tree of Angels event originated in 1991 in Austin by People Against Violent Crime and the concept has led to 34 similar events throughout Texas.  

  • 27 Sep 2012 9:07 PM | Michelle Richter

    Your Voice can make a difference!

    Immediate Action…..Protest the Parole…


    The victim’s family members and friends are seeking your help with writing a “protest letter”. Protest Letters may be emailed or faxed to help keep Benito Vicente Lazarine in prison for as long as his sentence dictates, “18 years”.


    What You Can Do!???


    Go to the MEMBER-ONLY section & read the blog to read the case study and find out what you can do to help!

  • 05 Jul 2012 11:49 AM | Michelle Richter

    The TVSA Board has a bittersweet announcement for the membership. Our Association Director, Kathy McCarrell, has accepted a position in California, and will be leaving us in July. Kathy has done a terrific job for the association and she will be greatly missed.

     The Executive Committee has appointed Stephanie Books as Interim  Association Director beginning August 1st. Stephanie is a long time member of TVSA, having served as President and in other leadership positions which enable her to provide continuity to the programmatic and operational aspects of our organization. Kathy and Stephanie have already begun collaborating to ensure a smooth transition. We would like to wish Kathy the best of luck in her new position, and hope you'll join with us in welcoming Stephanie back to working with us at TVSA to meet your needs as a membership organization.

  • 12 Jun 2012 6:17 PM | Michelle Richter

    Hello Everyone,

    We have been making some improvements on various parts of the website so please explore the blog, new employment opportunities and upcoming events.

    You will notice that the "Links" Page is currently under construction. In an effort to serve you better we will be expanding this section. This is where you can help us. Send the communications chair a couple of links to agencies in your region that you feel are instrumental in serving victims. We will keep you posted concerning the pages new upload.

    Thank you,

    Michelle Richter - Communications

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