Roadmap to Assist Trafficking Survivors with Post-Conviction Legal Support
The U.S. Department of State notes that “authorities often fail to properly screen and identify victims of human trafficking when they detain or arrest criminal suspects. This can result in a second victimization when victims are punished for their engagement in the crimes their traffickers forced them to commit.”
This guide serves as a roadmap for practitioners who represent trafficking survivors in post-conviction efforts to clear, vacate, expunge, or seal criminal records. It contains important filing considerations for motion practice, best practices for employing a trauma-informed approach to client interviewing and representation, and other best practices for advocates.
(Posted July 5, 2017)
National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network Funds Awarded to Support Victims
NITVAN II, with funding support from OVC, seeks to enhance and expand the capabilities of service providers helping victims of identity theft and cybercrime to expand and improve their outreach through coalition building efforts nationwide.
Ten successful applicants will be selected to establish and lead a coalition in their designated service area. These coalitions will be awarded up to $50,000 each for allowable activities.
Each coalition will develop a sustainable support system of victim service providers, fostering member collaboration and increasing the availability of services to address the needs and rights of victims of identity theft and cybercrime.
Applicants are limited to public or private victim serving entities. This includes nonprofit organizations (including American Indian Nation nonprofit organizations), faith-based and community organizations, federally recognized American Indian Nation governments (as determined by the Secretary of the Interior), as well as local and state government entities.
Apply by June 9, 2017.
(Posted March 3, 2017, Updated May 3, 2017)
National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network Funds Awarded to Support Victims
The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nationally recognized non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft, has received a National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network (NITVAN II) grant awarded by OVC. This grant will enable the ITRC to provide technical expertise, assistance, and training to support coalitions who seek to improve services to all types of identity theft victims.
“Identity theft is often a complex and challenging crime that many victims experience as intensely traumatic,” said OVC Director Joye E. Frost. “NITVAN coalitions provide victims of identity theft with critical resources ranging from legal assistance to online educational information to outreach materials informing victims about how to receive the help they need.”
OVC Director Joye E. Frost encourages all victim service providers to complete this critical census once you have received an invitation to participate.
The NCVSP will provide the first comprehensive national picture of the existing response system for victims of crime and abuse. This information can be used by OVC and other federal agencies to gain a deeper understanding of gaps in services and delivery methods. It will also provide vital data to better demonstrate the need for adequate resource allocation.
The NCVSP is being conducted by RAND, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and survey firm NORC. Read more about the NCVSP on the project website.
(Posted October 27, 2016)
Video Shows Importance of Law Enforcement Response and Services to DUI Victims
Drunk driving crashes are crimes, not accidents. Alcohol impaired driving crashes cause thousands of deaths and injuries every year.
A new National Sheriffs' Association video, DUI Crashes: Real Crimes, Real Victims, addresses the need for law enforcement to respond to and interact with DUI crash victims in a victim-centered way, with all the referrals, support, and resources due to victims of a violent crime.
The video, which was produced with OVC grant funding, describes the importance of clearly communicating services that are available to victims of crime. This includes victim compensation available in every state and territory through the Crime Victims Fund.
The census is the first phase of a nationwide data collection effort that will define the diverse field of victim service providers and identify the size and scope of the victim services field.
This information can be used to gain a deeper understanding of gaps in services and service delivery methods, provide vital data to better demonstrate the need for adequate resource allocation, and enhance victim service organizations’ ability to focus requests for funding.
OVC Director Joye E. Frost encourages all victim service provides to participate in the census.
The Census is being conducted by RAND, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and survey firm NORC. The census should reach every victim service organization or agency in the fall of 2017.
(Posted September 28, 2016)
New Mobile App for Victims of Technology Harassment
The National Network to End Domestic Violence released a new mobile app that offers resources for victims of technology-facilitated stalking or abuse. The Tech Safety App is an educational app that walks users through how a particular technology could be misused, what they can do about it, and offers users safety tips on how to increase their safety and privacy.
This cutting-edge app was funded by OVC’s Vision 21 Initiative. “Technology is changing how victims experience crimes, from how it’s perpetrated against them to how they can reach out for help,” said Joye Frost, director of OVC. “Through Vision 21, our goal was to provide crime victims easier access to information and services, and equip victim service providers with resources and tools.”
(Posted July 25, 2016)
OVC-funded App Connects Victims of Crime in Southwest Ohio to Services and Support
The Family Services of Dayton and the University of Dayton Research Institute has launched the AVIATOR (A Victim Information App to Ohio Resources) mobile app. This free app allows users in southwest Ohio to quickly connect with Ohio law enforcement, medical services, counselors, justice information, community resources, and other professionals and organizations that can provide support for victims of crime. AVIATOR was developed with support from OVC funding through the Vision 21: Victim Services Mobile App project.
(Posted June 23, 2016)
Supporting Victim Services: Working Together to Prevent Cycles of Harm
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 10–16, 2016) and National Reentry Week (April 24–30, 2016) are both about progress, triumphs, and rebuilding lives. Commemorated in April, one highlights the progress made in supporting victims and the other in supporting those returning from jail or prison.
In a new blog post, Office of Justice Programs Fellows Daryl Atkinson and Heather Warnken discuss the relationship between these two observances - and the strategies employed by OVC to help reach underserved victims at the overlap.
"Many of the 600,000 people released from state and federal prisons and the 10 to 12 million who cycle in and out of local jails annually were once, if not many times, themselves victims of violence. They all face tremendous challenges navigating the maze of collateral consequences that may be triggered by having a record, such as lack of access to stable housing and employment. But far less–discussed is the lack of access to victim services – or the need for them in the first place.“
Heather Warnken is participating in the Victim Assistance Professional Development Fellowship Program. She works with OVC and Bureau of Justice Statistics to improve the synthesis and translation of social science research and statistical findings to inform practice and policies in the victim services field. Daryl V. Atkinson is a Second Chance Fellow with the Bureau of Justice Assistance whose focus is on developing reentry policy.
(Posted April 19, 2016)
Serving Child and Youth Victims by Linking Systems of Care
Improving the response to youth victims and their families through consistent, coordinated efforts is critical in helping children heal from trauma. Through the Vision 21: Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth grant, OVC awarded funding to Virginia and Montana for a project designed to:
Promote healing for victims of crime.
Provide or coordinate prevention and intervention services to youth and families experiencing trauma.
Build capacity within communities to meet the needs of youth exposed to violence.
This project will span more than 6 years to better align systems of care that respond to the needs of children, youth, families, and caregivers who have experienced victimization or were exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities.
This past week in Reno, Nevada, officials from the Vision 21: Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth team met for the first time to develop strategies, problem-solve barriers, and develop a vision for children and families. The team is composed of OVC staff, representatives from Virginia and Montana, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, a national-scope Steering Committee, and ICF International.
ICF International is conducting an evaluation of this demonstration project.
(Posted March 11, 2016)
OVC Aims to Reduce Language Barriers in Victim Services
OVC recognizes that communication barriers prevent millions of Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and limited English proficient (LEP) victims across the country from seeking and receiving services. OVC has launched a new initiative to reach these underserved victims and bridge this gap in services.
The OVC Language Access Training and Technical Assistance Program provides a grant to the Vera Institute of Justice and its partners to ensure equal access to services for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and LEP individuals through an innovative dual approach. The program will provide training and technical assistance, published resources, and research on promising practices for crime victim service providers and allied professionals through a new online language access resource center, in-person and online trainings, and individual consultations.
OVC also selected Tuyet Duong as a Language Access Fellow to enhance OVC’s many programs with language access components. Ms. Duong will identify effective and emerging strategies to improve access to OVC materials and programs; review OVC resources, products, and training; and develop recommendations regarding OVC’s Language Access Program Plan.
(Posted March 4, 2016)
Expansive Resource Center Launched for Victims of Crime
The VictimConnect Resource Center is a place for crime victims to learn about their rights and options, confidentially and compassionately. Operated by the National Center for Victims of Crime, VictimConnect offers a toll–free telephone helpline (855–4–VICTIM), an innovative online chat, referrals, and additional resources. Whether by chat or phone, trained specialists are available to assist victims of crime.
(Posted January 26, 2016)
New Trainings Available for Adult Protective Services Caseworkers
The National Adult Protective Service (APS) Training Project was created to strengthen the capacity of APS workers and their partners to serve victims of elder abuse. With funding from OVC, the Academy for Professional Excellence of the School of Social Work at San Diego State University developed curricula for the following APS trainings:
New Online Toolkit For Assisting Victims of Mortgage Fraud
The National Crime Prevention Council, with support from OVC grant funds, released the Mortgage Fraud Online Toolkit. The toolkit offers information, tip sheets, and training resources for victim service providers and allied professionals to build understanding about different types of mortgage fraud, how to best serve victims, and ways to raise awareness in the community. Victims of mortgage fraud can also use this toolkit to help document and report the crime, communicate with creditors, and limit the damage to their future financial health. (Posted November 3, 2015)
New Mobile App Offers Help to Identity Theft Victims
The Identity Theft Resource Center has released a free mobile app now available for download on Apple and Android devices. The ID Theft Help App, funded by a grant from OVC, provides resources for identity theft victims, including direct access to victim advisors through a 24/7 call center or live chat.
This app can help users address identity theft issues, such as a stolen wallet or unauthorized credit card purchases. The app also offers educational tools on how to protect yourself against identity theft, including best practices for public WiFi protection. Visit the Identity Theft Resource Center to learn more and download the app. (Posted September 25, 2015)
Spanish-language Hotline Launches for Sexual Assault Survivors
With support from an OVC Vision 21 grant, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) recently launched services to provide free, confidential support for Spanish-speaking survivors of sexual assault through the RAINN operated National Sexual Assault Online Hotline (La Línea de Ayuda Nacional Online del Asalto Sexual). In addition to services in English, Spanish-language survivors and their loved ones can receive support from trained support specialists through the Online Hotline or by calling RAINN at 1–800–656–HOPE (4673).
OVC Director Joye E. Frost states that “This RAINN initiative embodies the kind of work the field must undertake to ensure that all crime victims have access not only to services, but access that is linguistically accessible and culturally competent. The hotline’s new Spanish-language service exemplifies our shared commitment to reaching under-served victims through appropriate and victim-centered services.”
Safe Use of Technology: Helping Providers and Victims
When using technology, both victim advocates and survivors need to consider safety, privacy, and security. The National Network to End Domestic Violence's Safety Net Project develops resources and information on the use of technology for survivors of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking and the agencies that support them. With support from OVC, the Safety Net Project created the following resources –
Human Trafficking: New Resources for Combating Crime and Serving Victims
On January 5, 2015, Jean Bruggeman, OVC's Human Trafficking Fellow, wrote a blog post for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Diagnostic Center on the need for a multi-pronged approach to combating human trafficking. Because traffickers can be part of a violent gang, international network, or even the victims' families, a variety of techniques are needed to hold traffickers accountable, stop victimization, and support the survivors. Read the blog post now to discover new resources for law enforcement, service providers, survivors, and allied professionals. Learn more about the OJP Diagnostic Center. (Posted January 8, 2015)
Past News from Grantees
Protecting Victim Privacy—"After-the-Fact"
Through OVC’s Legal Assistance for Crime Victims Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, OVC’s Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) and the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) are presenting a free webinar featuring pro bono attorneys who stepped out of their comfort zone to tackle cutting edge victims’ rights issues. The goal of the Legal Assistance for Crime Victims Training and Technical Assistance Initiative is to expand the availability of pro bono and no-cost legal assistance for victims of crime nationally.
What Survivors Say About How Abusers Use Technology To Stalk and Harass Them
New graphics from the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) illustrate current concerns by victim services agencies and survivors on the use of technology, as reported in a 2012 survey of more than 750 victim service organizations. The Technology Safety Strategies & Education and Technology Abuse in Partner Violence infographics highlight that—
Victims are asking for help on how to manage their technology and stay safe while using them. Top requests are for help with cell phones and managing location privacy.
Victim service agencies worry that that their confidential shelter and crisis center location will be revealed.
90% of programs report that survivors come to them for help after abusers intimidated and made threats via cell phone, text messages and email.
75% of programs noted that abusers accessed victim’s accounts (email, social media, etc.) without the victim’s consent and oftentimes without their knowledge.
In response to the survey findings, NNEDV’s Safety Net project developed a series of webinars on technology use and survivor safety and in the spring of 2013 hosted "From Cell Phones to Facebook: Technology Safety in a Digital World, a Webinar Series for Victim Service Agencies." The survey, webinars, and illustrations were made possible through a grant from OVC to NNEDV.