Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) works with government and nonprofit organizations to enhance efforts to prevent and address interpersonal violence and related crimes, including domestic violence and sexual assault. The center specializes in fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration and promoting policies and practices that hold abusers accountable, prioritize safety, and also help survivors heal. By combining staff expertise and skills with the practical knowledge of professionals in the field, it provides technical assistance and guidance that is timely, relevant, and reflective of current best practices.
CVS’s work includes:
Serving Survivors with Disabilities and Deaf Survivors
Disability organizations often lack the resources needed to safely respond to domestic and sexual violence; victim services are often unable to address the access needs of people with disabilities. CVS’s Accessing Safety Initiative promotes collaborations between disability and victim service organizations and enhances organizational capacity to serve Deaf survivors and survivors with disabilities.
Addressing Domestic Violence in Supervised Visitation Programs for Families
During custody proceedings, batterers often use access to children to continue to batter, control, stalk, and intimidate their victims. Providers of supervised visitation and safe exchange services need to understand the dynamics of battering and be equipped to intervene appropriately. CVS’s Supervised Visitation Initiative is helping the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women enhance its supports for supervised visitation programs in ways that ensure the safety of domestic violence victims and their children.
- Responding to sexual assault in a correctional facility requires great skill, coordination, and sensitivity, as well as an understanding of the unique challenges presented by a confined setting. In its 2009 national standards and final report, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission called on correctional facilities to develop a sexual assault response protocol based on the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2004 National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents. CVS’s Sexual Assault Forensic Protocol Project is working with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to develop a guide for prisons, jails, residential community corrections, and lockups for adapting the national protocol to these environments.
Moving Toward Accessible and Responsive Services to Serve Survivors with Disabilities
CVS is developing performance indicators for disability and domestic violence organizations, as well as rape crisis centers, to measure progress towards improving services for people with disabilities and Deaf individuals who have experienced domestic or sexual violence. CVS's Evaluating Organizational Capacity to Serve Survivors with Disabilities Project will pilot the indicator systems that have been developed in ten communities across the country. Based on feedback from the communities, CVS staff will finalize the measurement system and accompanying implementation guide and will disseminate them to victim services and disability organizations nationwide.
Why We Do This Work
Domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are serious public health issues that affect millions of women, children, and men in the United States.
- 1 in 4 women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.1
- 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.2
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been sexually abused before the age of 18.3
- 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men have been stalked in their lifetime.4
As more is learned about these forms of violence and successful interventions, criminal justice and social service delivery systems must adapt to respond to the changing nature of violence and abuse. They must also become increasingly sensitive to those who are affected and adopt practices that can best meet their needs and, ultimately, end violence altogether. The Center on Victimization and Safety combines research, planning, and technical assistance to facilitate this process.
For more information about Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety, contact center director Nancy Smith.
1Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).
2U.S. Department of Justice, “Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women,” November 1998.
3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.”
4Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. (1998). “Stalking in America.” National Institute for Justice.
Vera’s Accessing Safety Initiative (ASI) helps its partner jurisdictions—states and cities—enhance the capacity of their social services and criminal justice systems to assist women with disabilities & Deaf women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
In recent years, public and private funders have developed a keen sense of the importance of measuring the value of the programs they support. At the same time, many social service providers have started to recognize the benefit of evaluating their programs. Among grantors and grant recipients alike, economic belt-tightening and the resulting need to optimize spending allocations have fostered an appreciation for evaluation.
Vera's Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) is evaluating an initiative that seeks to increase the capacity of mainstream victim service providers to effectively serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) victims of crime. The initiative, which is coordinated by the New York Anti-Violence Project on behalf of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, is being implemented in one domestic violence center and two rape crisis centers in different parts of the United States. The findings will be shared with victim service providers nationwide to help them improve services for LGBTQ survivors.
Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety is developing performance indicators for disability and domestic violence organizations, as well as rape crisis centers, to measure progress towards improving services for people with disabilities and Deaf individuals who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.
Sexual assault against people with disabilities is a critical and neglected issue. Although empirical evidence is extremely limited, several studies based on population or convenience samples of sexual assault among people with disabilities report lifetime rates as high as 53 percent. However, few studies have examined criminal justice responses to and help-seeking patterns of diverse sexual assault survivors with disabilities (for example, gender, age, race and ethnicity, and disability type) using rigorous research methods and methods designed for this population. To address this gap, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety will conduct a National Institute of Justice-funded study in partnership with a large district attorney’s office and a community-based, non-residential program providing services to people with disabilities, with support from a local rape crisis center.
The Supervised Visitation Initiative (SVI) works with supervised visitation programs funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to enhance their capacity to effectively and safely serve families who have experienced domestic violence. The initiative provides these programs with training, tailored consultation, and access to information on best practices from programs across the country.
In March of 2012, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to ensure that existing efforts to address sexual abuse of children are inclusive of children with disabilities. They also sought to increase the number and breadth of efforts that are specifically addressing sexual abuse of children with disabilities.