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OFFICE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Archived Messages from the Director



April 2010 Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

December 2009 Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

November 2009 Message OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

October 2009 Message OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

June 2009 Message OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2009 Message (PDF)

February 2009 Message from OVW Acting Director

A Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce on the 15th Anniversary of the VAWA | (PDF)

January 2009 Message from OVW Director Cindy Dyer

Farewell Message from OVW Director Cindy Dyer

April 2010 Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

Dear Friends,

As you probably know, the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Judge Susan B. Carbon as Director of the Office on Violence Against Women on February 11, 2010.  Please join us in warmly welcoming her to the Department of Justice, as she officially assumes her duties tomorrow, April 2, 2010.  You can read Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement on her confirmation here.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

OVW is proud to commemorate April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month alongside advocates throughout the country who are transforming lives.  We know the Department cannot do this work alone, and we stand committed to those who are doing this critical work every day. 

The numbers tell a story we cannot ignore. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the United States, individuals age 12 or older experienced an estimated 222,000 rapes or sexual assaults in 2008.  Research indicates that, over the course of their lifetimes, 18 percent of women in this country are raped. 

During this month, we take strength and inspiration from the work of advocates around the country who serve as a bridge to recovery and encourage survivors of sexual violence to raise their voices.  The strength and the belief you have in survivors of sexual violence, is much of what makes the work we do at OVW worthwhile – and I am proud to say that we are committed to standing with you and supporting you in your efforts, locally and nationally - and to refocusing our own efforts to address sexual assault more effectively.  Ending sexual violence is and will remain a priority for the Office on Violence Against Women, the Department of Justice and for the entire Administration.

The Attorney General’s Children Exposed to Violence Demonstration Program

The Department of Justice announced yesterday more than $5 million in available funds to address the high incidence of American children’s exposure to violence. The Department has made these funds available through six grant solicitations targeting planning, outreach, research, and best practices.  This announcement includes the Attorney General's Children Exposed to Violence Demonstration Program and is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to provide leadership and federal assistance to reduce the incidence and impact of children’s exposure to violence across the country. Solicitations and funding opportunities can be found here: http://www.ojp.gov/funding/solicitations.htm. Read More.

 

Fiscal Year 2009 Grantees

We are pleased to announce that the list of Fiscal Year 2009 grantees is now available on OVW’s our website, sorted by OVW program and state or territory.  In Fiscal Year 2009 OVW made 1,058 awards totaling more than $611 million!  OVW welcomes our new grantees and looks forward to working with you on your projects in the coming years.

As we prepare to welcome Judge Carbon, I would like to express what a privilege it has been to serve as the Acting Director of OVW these past 15 months.  I will be returning to projects and programs that have for so long been at the heart of our work.  I want to thank our extremely dedicated and talented staff for their hard work and for ensuring that hundreds of grantees in the field receive the programmatic, financial and administrative support from OVW they need to succeed and drive change.  I am most grateful to survivors, advocates, and the criminal justice community who have taught us the direction we need to go.  We are, every one of us, partners in our daily efforts to end violence against women, girls, and all whose lives have been forever changed by sexual and domestic violence.  There is still so much to be done.

 

With gratitude.

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director

 



December 2009 Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

Dear Friends,

Seasons greetings from the Office on Violence Against Women!  As the end of this decade nears, we pause to reflect on what we have accomplished and the work we still have to do.  An important priority this year is including fathers—in fact, all men and boys—as equal partners in our work to end violence in our communities.  The Department is taking important steps to meet this goal.

Responsible Fathers, Healthy Communities

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder co-hosted a Fatherhood Town Hall at Morehouse College in Atlanta to discuss the importance of fatherhood and how the criminal justice system can help support the successful re-entry of incarcerated fathers back into the community.   The Department of Justice is committed to establishing a more stable and supportive environment for those released, namely by awarding $28 million under the Second Chance Act for re-entry programs.  For additional information about the intersection of domestic violence and prisoner re-entry, visit the SafeReturn Re-Entry Technical Assistance Project, funded by OVW and launched in cooperation with the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American CommunityRead more about the Attorney General’s Fatherhood Town Hall.

January is Stalking Awareness Month

The first month of 2010 is Stalking Awareness Month, and once again, OVW is proud to fund the Stalking Resource Center and the Stalking Awareness Month Resources website, in cooperation with National Center for Victims of Crime.   Stalking can be defined as a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  The 2008 Stalking Victimization Report found that, during a 12 month period, an estimated 3.4 million persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking.   Nearly 75 percent of victims knew their offender in some capacity. Stalking victims most often identified the stalker as a former intimate partner (22 percent) or a friend, roommate, or neighbor (16 percent).  The report confirmed what we knew to be true: domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes are not isolated from each other, but happen as part of a continuum in many victims’ lives.  I encourage all of you to join OVW in raising awareness in your community and focusing attention on this serious and violent crime.

Fiscal Year 2010 Solicitations for Proposals

OVW has started to announce Fiscal Year 2010 solicitations for program proposals through spring of 2010.  These will be regularly posted on OVW’s website: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/open-solicitations.htm.  We encourage you to review carefully the Information for Applicants page which includes the OVW Grant Program Reference Guide and important resources which will help you prepare your application proposals.

As 2009 draws to a close, I want to acknowledge the remarkable support from our President, Vice President, Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, and Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, remarkable men who stand strongly with us and behind us every day.  We are thankful for the nation’s investment in protecting the most victimized through the Recovery Act.  We are thankful to live in a nation where protecting women and girls from brutality and abuse continues to be a national priority because of fifteen years of the Violence Against Women Act.  And I am thankful to all of you for your continued partnership and for doing the important work that reflects the most compassionate qualities of humanity.  From all of us at the Office on Violence Against Women, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and an even brighter new year.

 

With gratitude,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director


November 2009 Message OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

Dear Friends,

Congratulations on another successful Domestic Violence Awareness Month! I enjoyed hearing about the many exciting events that took place around the country. On October 19, the Department of Justice commemorated the month to honor the work of advocates and communities around the country who protect and serve survivors. Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, and Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, and I were joined by representatives from organizations that work to end domestic violence and survivors and advocates who generously shared their stories. You can view videos from the event on the new Department of Justice Blog: http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/category/ovaw.

December 3: It’s Time to Talk!

Fifteen years after the Violence Against Women Act was enacted, much has been accomplished, but the work is far from finished. On December 3, Liz Claiborne, Inc. will sponsor It’s Time to Talk Day, dedicated to ensuring that Americans speak up about domestic, sexual and teen dating violence and to spark a national conversation about violence against women and teen dating abuse. The Department of Justice will also dedicate this day to talk about ways to end the violence against women and girls that pervades every community in America. We encourage you to stand with us on December 3 because it’s time to talk to our colleagues, friends, and our family. Please let us know if you are planning any events in your community on this day and we will highlight them on our website. OVW developed a toolkit of resources for the 15th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and the official It’s Time to Talk website has additional information.

Fiscal Year 2010 Solicitations

I know many of you will be interested to learn that OVW will release solicitations for proposals for Fiscal Year 2010 grant programs beginning mid-December. All solicitations will be posted on OVW’s website: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/open-solicitations.htm. You may subscribe to instant updates on new solicitations by signing up for the EGov Delivery Option: http://www.justice.gov/govdelivery/subscribe.html?topic_id=USDOJ_59.

We also encourage everyone to review carefully “Information for Applicants” in each solicitation which includes the first-ever OVW Grant Program Reference Guide. This important resource includes eligibility requirements for all OVW programs, solicitation timelines, budget caps and project periods, information about how to apply, required application content, grant writing tips, sample budgets, and much more! Please review the guidebook carefully and thoroughly as you prepare for the 2010 application process.

As 2009 comes to a close and the holidays approach, I want to give thanks to everyone in the field for your efforts every day on behalf of survivors. It is a joy to do this work with devoted men and women committed to changing the status quo. In looking forward to December 3rd and 2010, we will continue our efforts until we see a day where men, women, and children are considered sacred in a world without violence.

Happy Thanksgiving and, again, with gratitude,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director


October 2009 Message OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Office on Violence Against Women, I offer my deepest condolences to residents of American Samoa and surrounding areas who have been impacted by the recent tsunami. As you know, OVW works with a number of organizations on the island and we are monitoring the situation and the safety of our partners.

OVW Director Nominated

Last week, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Judge Susan B. Carbon to be the next Director of OVW. Susan Carbon, first appointed to the bench in 1991, has been a Supervisory Judge of the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Family Division since 1996. Judge Carbon has made many contributions to our collective work, including serving as faculty for the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. You may view the White House announcement here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-More-Key-Administration-Posts-10/01/09/.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women join victim service providers, law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecutors and survivors around the country to observe October 2009 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We must recognize that we can all be agents of social change and end the tragedy of violence against women.

President Barack Obama made the official announcement in a proclamation:

During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. By providing young people with education about healthy relationships, and by changing attitudes that support violence, we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation's victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis. Together, we must ensure that, in America, no victim of domestic violence ever struggles alone.

While we have witnessed significant progress since the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law fifteen years ago, we must raise the bar and create a lasting shift in the way our country perceives and responds to violence against women and girls and to violence against children. As President Obama states, “Together, we must ensure that, in America, no victim of domestic violence ever struggles alone. “ Therefore, we, as agents of social change, must elevate the conversation so that Americans understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable in our homes, schools, and communities – stretching as far north as our Native Alaska villages and as far west as the American Samoa territory.

Violence against women is the seed to so many other forms of violence. This shift must happen because violence against women continues to have devastating effects on entire communities. When children witness violence in the home, those children are impacted by what they have seen and often experienced themselves. Therefore, all members of the community must be engaged to end the violence. Parents, grandparents, siblings, co-workers, coaches, mentors, teachers, religious leaders, must all be involved.

New Research

We are pleased to share with you new statistical studies released by the Department. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a publication on Female Victims of Violence, which provides the current findings on nonfatal and fatal violent crimes committed against females. Second, the Crimes Against People with Disabilities is the first national study that presents findings about nonfatal violent and property crime experienced by persons with disabilities.

In partnership with the National Institute for Justice, OVW is proud to sponsor a an important presentation on the latest research on protective orders, with experts Dr. TK Logan and Teri Faragher from the Kentucky Civil Protective Order Study. If you will be in the Washington, DC-area, please join us for the presentation at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC on Thursday, October 22 from 1 PM to 2:30 PM. Please RSVP to Tosha Preston by Friday, October 16. Reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis as space is limited.
Additional information can be found on OVW’s website: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/events-meetings.htm.

Best wishes for a successful month of Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities! The 2009 OVW poster is available for download to use for events. Thank you for all that you do to change our conversations to prevent violence against women, one community at a time.

Sincerely,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director


June 2009 Message OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce

Today, OVW proudly joins international organizations and countries around the world to recognize June 15, 2009 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. By 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will more than double to 71 million older Americans, comprising roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, as the number of older Americans increases, so does the number of potential victims of elder abuse.

Individuals 50 years of age or older who are victims of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, face unique barriers in receiving assistance. OVW's Enhanced Training and Services to End Violence Against and Abuse of Women in Later in Life Program funds projects providing a comprehensive approach to addressing elder abuse. The Abuse of Women in Later in Life Program currently funds grantees in 26 communities across the nation where police, prosecutors, the judiciary, victim- service organizations, governmental agencies, and organizations serving older victims are working together to create or support multidisciplinary collaborative community responses for older victims. Please visit OVW's website for additional information on how you can raise public awareness about confronting elder abuse in your community.

Last month, OVW awarded the first round of Recovery Act awards to States and state coalitions to support comprehensive strategies addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. These awards not only support coordination among state agencies and victim service organizations, but offer an opportunity for our field victim services agencies to be part of our nation's economic recovery.

Please visit your state's STOP Administering agency for information on how your state plans to award ARRA STOP funds. A complete list of state contacts can be found on OVW's website: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/stop-contactlist.htm.

Sharing his vision for safe and healthy families, Attorney General Eric Holder recently addressed participants at the OVW-sponsored National Summit on the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment via video message. The Attorney General emphasized the "importance of healthy relationships and that all of us need to be role models and mentors for our children so that they have the best chance of living in communities and families free from violence." OVW continues to make ending the cycle of violence a priority in our programmatic and policy work, and we wish to extend our gratitude to all participants for making the conference an enormous success!

Last week, The Honorable Patrick Leahy convened the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to hold a hearing on "The Continued Importance of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)." Senators, survivors, advocates, and victims' families testified on the effects of change in the way communities around the country respond to violence against women, as a direct result of VAWA funding. Additional information from the committee hearing is available on the Senate Judiciary Committee's website.

I continue to be inspired by your work and am grateful to those of you who have devoted your lives to preventing and ending violence against women. We know none of this would be possible without your continued commitment and dedication. We thank you for working with us and each other. The Attorney General, and our President stand with you.

Sincerely,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director
Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2009 Message

Dear Friends:

President Barack Obama has proclaimed April 2009 as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We are proud to announce this historic and unprecedented proclamation, and we are inspired by what President Obama has asked of us:

I urge all Americans to respond to sexual assault by creating policies at work and school, by engaging in discussions with family and friends, and by making the prevention of sexual assault a priority in their communities.

Sexual violence is a harsh reality in every corner of the globe, including the United States. It is a serious problem in the workplace, on college campuses, in our communities, and sadly, in some of our families. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) joins victim advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, sexual assault forensic examiners, and all those serving survivors in recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, over 255,000 sexual assaults and rapes occurred or were attempted in 2006 in this country alone. Sexual violence continues to be a significant crime against women, and every threat of sexual assault or brutal act of rape is one too many.

Ending sexual violence is a priority for OVW, and we assure you we will continue to strengthen our efforts to confront this terrible crime. Through our collective efforts and dedication we can end the trauma sexual violence victims experience in the aftermath of assault. Together, we can let it be known that there is no excuse for sexual violence, including the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

In 2009, we launched the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) authorized by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. This Fiscal Year OVW will award $21 million to the Sexual Assault Services Formula Grant Program; and four additional SASP discretionary programs for culturally and linguistically specific programs; State, tribal, and territorial sexual assault coalitions; and tribal governments. Awards will be made this summer to enhance services to sexual assault victims.

In 2004 OVW released the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations. Recognizing the additional burdens facing victims of sexual assault in Indian country, OVW is now working with Red Wind Consulting to develop a new protocol specific to Indian country. It is our hope that this will allow Indian victims to receive a uniform, high-quality response in cases of sexual assault.

In other important news, on March 11, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Council will provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and will ensure that U.S. government agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families. One of the inaugural members of the Council, Attorney General Eric Holder will meet regularly with Council members to find new ways to prevent violence against women, at home and abroad.

Also, OVW is proud to support the second national summit on the intersection of child abuse and domestic violence, From Inspiration to Innovation: Leadership, Partnership, and Change, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming from June 2-4, 2009. The registration deadline is extended to April 15. For details on the conference as well as the registration application, please visit http://www.thegreenbook.info/summit/index.htm.

In closing, please join me, Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Obama in recognizing the tireless efforts of advocates and organizations working everyday to raise awareness in communities throughout the world during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Your efforts continue to inspire and motivate our work throughout the year and we are proud to stand with you as partners.

Sincerely,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director
Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice


February 2009 Message from OVW Acting Director

Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to continue the Director’s monthly messages and share with you the latest news from the Office on Violence Against Women.  I am honored to have been designated Acting Director by President Barack Obama.

This week we welcome Attorney General Eric Holder.  He has challenged every one of us at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “roll up our sleeves” and “get down to work.”  OVW is very excited to have the opportunity to work closely with new DOJ leadership and we will continue to be actively involved with the field in both policy and program development.  We rely on you for feedback on improving our efforts to end violence against women.

The U.S. Senate designated the week of February 2-6 as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.  According to the Center for Disease Control's 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, approximately 10% of adolescents nationwide reported being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during the previous year.  Under the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, Congress directed OVW to include teens in our intervention work, specifically through three of our new programs: Services to Advocate for and Respond to Youth, Children and Youth Exposed to Violence, and Engaging Men and Youth.  Through collaborative efforts, we can enhance understanding of healthy relationships, help teens identify signs of abuse, and help them locate services if they or someone they know is experiencing a physically or emotionally abusive relationship.

This week, the Family Violence Prevention Fund in partnership with OVW, the AD Council, and R/GA launched a national public service advertising campaign to help teens recognize digital dating abuse and its prevention.  This web-based campaign is tailored to teen interaction and communication with peers.  Diverse focus groups and additional research provided insight on the forms of digital dating abuse through social networking sites and mobile communication.  We also learned that technology is at the center of most teenagers’ lives, regardless of class, sex, or race, and can be a tool to abuse and control.

To address this problem, the four partners launched www.ThatsNotCool.com, asking teens, “Where Do You Draw Your Digital Line?” to define what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  The website provides interactive, web-based tools and resources to prevent teen dating violence by promoting positive friendships and relationships, raising awareness about the signs of abuse, and most importantly, educating teens about “digital gray areas.”  A recent New York Times article details the development of the campaign.

We urge you to visit www.ThatsNotCool.com and we hope this website will aid in your community’s efforts to reach out to teens and prevent teen dating violence.

Lastly, as we approach the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), we would like your help in creating a display of artwork, posters, graphics and photographs that reflect the spirit of the VAWA as demonstrated by the extraordinary work of our grantees and partners in the field.  Please send us items you have developed and we will exhibit a diverse selection in OVW’s office space.

Please send submissions via FedEx or UPS (or another courier service) and/or electronically to OVW.Outreach@usdoj.gov.  There is no need to rush shipping but please DO NOT send items through the U.S. Postal Service as they will be damaged by DOJ security screening.  Send your submissions with complete contact information to:

Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice
800 K Street NW, Suite 920
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 307-6026
Attn: Linda Richardson

We look forward to your response!

I want to thank each of you for the work you do every day to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Without your hard work and dedication, we never would have come this far.  But as you know, there is much more work to do.  As Attorney General Holder said in his first message to DOJ employees, “Our task will not be easy.   Our days will be long and our challenges will be great.   But I know that because of your professionalism, your integrity, and your hard work, we will succeed in our vital mission.” 

Together we can bring about the change we are dedicated to.  I wish you the best in your continuing endeavors. 

 

Sincerely,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director, Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice


Message from OVW Acting Director Catherine Pierce on the 15th Anniversary of the VAWA

Dear Friends,

Fifteen years ago, we saw the result of the hard work of dedicated advocates throughout the nation, when landmark legislation, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), was signed into law on September 13, 1994.

And today, President Barack Obama commemorated the 15th anniversary of this historic law in a Presidential Proclamation:

“Far too many women in our communities and neighborhoods, and across the world, continue to suffer from violence. Inspired by the promise and achievement of the Violence Against Women Act, our Nation stands united in its determination to end these crimes and help those in need.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. I call upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations, and all levels of government, to work in collaboration to end violence against women.”

Without a doubt, VAWA would never have happened without the steadfast commitment and work of the countless advocates, coalitions and community partners who worked tirelessly for this landmark legislation, and without the dedication of our Vice President, then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden, and U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch.

The VAWA recognized the severity of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking and provided federal funding to help communities in their efforts to address the needs of survivors and hold offenders accountable. In marking this historic moment, I encourage you to reflect on where we were before, before the VAWA, and where we are now.

Thirty years ago, when a law enforcement officer responded to domestic abuse, it was considered a “family matter.” Spousal rape was not a crime. Many States did not have domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, or hotlines.

Thirty years ago, programs for culturally and linguistically specific groups were unheard of. Disabled women and women in later in life were not thought to be vulnerable to abuse. We had little understanding of the dynamics of teen relationships and the potential for sexual assault and intimate partner violence. We did not recognize the co-occurrence of child maltreatment, and sexual and domestic violence nor did we understand the devastating impact of early victimization and exposure to violence.

But thirty years ago, a diverse group of advocates organized to change the way our nation thought about and responded to violence against women. It became safer for survivors to talk to one another and speak about their struggles with the justice system. Survivors and advocates talked to legislators, educated policy makers, and changed the way our nation viewed and responded to violence against women. They stressed the necessity for treating domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking as crimes, for federal legislation that would support local efforts throughout the country, and vastly change the way we as a nation responded to survivors and offenders.

It took another 15 years to enact the VAWA, but since then countless lives have been saved, the voices of survivors have been heard, and families have been protected. Practitioners in the criminal justice system better understand the complex responses needed to address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

Today we invite partners on the front lines of the movement —advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary, and survivors—to join us in commemorating, not only 15 years of the Violence Against Women Act, but also the many years of partnership that brings us to where we are today.

In recognition of the 15th anniversary of the VAWA, OVW announces the beginning of a year-long effort to raise public awareness, to build stronger coalitions among federal, state, local and tribal communities, and to redouble our efforts to end domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking for men, women and children across the country.

I call upon all of you to continue to innovate and collaborate with the same resolute spirit of the movement we witnessed fifteen and thirty years ago. Together we will keep women and girls safe, and find lasting community-based solutions to end violence against women and girls.

You may view additional information about OVW’s plans to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act on our website: www.ovw.usdoj.gov/vawa15.htm. The Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women mark this anniversary with a renewed sense of dedication. Please join us.

Sincerely,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director


January 2009 Message from OVW Director Cindy Dyer

Dear Friends,

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and OVW, in partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime, launched the 2009 campaign “Know it. Name It. Stop It.”  This resource assists our partners in the field integrate stalking awareness into prevention and outreach programs and rigorously confront this crime.

Today the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics released a supplemental report to the National Crime Victimization Survey focused on Stalking Victimization in the United States.  This report is the most comprehensive study of stalking to date and confirms what we in the field have long known—stalking is pervasive, women are at higher risk of being stalked, and there is a dangerous intersection between stalking and more violent crimes. 

The study found that during a 12-month period, an estimated 3.4 million people (age 18 or older) were victims of stalking.  Surpassing previous estimates of stalking, the study noted persons age 18 to 19 and 20 to 24 experienced the highest rates of stalking victimization. 

The study further illustrates a dangerous reality that women are at higher risk of stalking victimization.  Females experienced 20 stalking victimizations per 1,000 females age 18 or older.  The rate of stalking victimization for males was approximately 7 per 1,000 males age 18 or older.

Seven in 10 victims sought help.  Approximately 60% do not report victimization to the police.  Most enlisted the help of family or friends while only 7% contacted victim services, a shelter, or helpline.

These findings delineate some clear priorities for all of us, as law enforcement officers, prosecutors, advocates, judges, or friends and colleagues.  We must raise awareness that stalking is a violent crime against women.  Secondly, in conjunction with our victim-centered approach, we can integrate services to stalking victims in the same way we serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  These crimes are interrelated and stalking is often times a result of intimate partner violence.

We encourage you to take advantage of the resources on the National Stalking Awareness Month website, during Stalking Awareness Month and throughout the year.  Your communities rely on you to provide information on services available, and we encourage you to include the crime of stalking in your mission statements and implement multidisciplinary responses to stalking.  By taking a firm stand against stalking, we are closer to ending violence against women.

Sincerely,

Cindy Dyer
Director, Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice


Farewell Message from OVW Director Cindy Dyer

Dear Friends,

This month marks the end of my tenure serving you as Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).  It has been an honor to lead this office in raising awareness and providing national leadership on issues related to stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence.

My desire to reach out to you for input on improving our country’s response to violence and abuse was rooted in my experience as a specialized domestic violence and sexual assault prosecutor.  One year later, I am proud to report on the progress of our top priorities.  

Many of our partners noted a startling trend emerging all over the country: battered women are losing custody of their children to state protection authorities or to batterers.  Last summer I convened a roundtable of experts from around the country to explore the intersection of custody and domestic violence.  I directed the office to develop and explore ways to equip communities to assist victims with custody disputes and prevent the negative consequences of giving custody to abusers.   OVW will continue to provide updates on this initiative and policies as they are implemented.

Last April I renewed OVW’s commitment to ending sexual violence.  As a result, OVW will launch the Sexual Assault Services Program this spring.  I am also pleased to announce OVW will launch a Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative in partnership with the National Institute of Justice, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to enhance services for victims of sexual assault through dual domestic violence/sexual assault programs.  This Initiative will provide a strong foundational response and spur promising practices to end sexual violence.

Lastly, we worked to establish new relationships with partners abroad and expand our mutual understanding of issues facing women around the globe.  The United States recognized sexual violence in conflict zones as a security concern, which was affirmed at the UN Security Council Thematic Debate on Women, Peace, and Security last year.  OVW presented at the International Family Justice Center Conference in England, showcased the work of our field partners at the UN Crime Commission in a forum of over 40 countries, and brought our experiences fighting violence against women to women’s organizations in Benin.  We created remarkable connections across borders and oceans and look forward to the day when women can live in a world free of violence.

Upon my departure, Deputy Director Catherine Pierce, a 15-year OVW veteran, will assume responsibilities as Acting Director.  I place my full faith and confidence in her and OVW staff to continue leading OVW and working with us to end violence against women.

I have learned so much through my extensive travels and meetings with grantees and site visits to the field and abroad.  I have seen first-hand how your work significantly impacts the lives of women everyday. 

I leave you with words of the great American leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose memory and contribution to our country will be celebrated in the coming days.  He once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” 

I thank you, dedicated individuals, for your tireless effort and for your passion to eradicate violence in the pursuit of justice for all.

Sincerely,

Cindy Dyer
Director, Office on Violence Against Women
U.S. Department of Justice




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