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Victim and Witness Assistance

  • Publications (70)
  • Resources (32)
  • Forum Discussions (5)
  • FAQs (17)
  • Funding (1)
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Victim and witness assistance programs ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes are treated with fairness and respect, afforded their rights, and provided with the services they need to help ease the impact of victimization. Victim and witness assistance services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and transportation, counseling, and criminal justice advocacy. All states and most territories receive annual state victim assistance program formula grants that must be used to support local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims.

The following resources provide additional information about victim and witness assistance programs and services.


OVC and OVC-Sponsored Publications

Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma DVD (April 2015) OVC, 0 pages, NCJ 239938.
This video series addresses the needs of children exposed to crime, abuse, and violence; highlights major issues in child victimization; identifies promising practices for service providers and others working with young victims; and shows how trauma-informed care can help child victims recover to lead healthy, productive lives. Online only companion resource guides accompany each video.
Abstract | HTML
 
2015 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide (January 2015) OVC, 182 pages, NCJ 247813.
The 2015 NCVRW Resource Guide, released ahead of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 19 to 25, highlights this year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims. The Guide includes a wide array of user-friendly outreach tools and sample products, a Theme DVD, current statistics on victimization, information on the history of victims’ rights in the United States, and concrete, practical ideas for engaging your community and empowering victims. Hardcopy versions of this year's Guide, which can be ordered through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) at www.ncjrs.gov, include Introductory Materials and NCVRW Resource Guide Artwork.
Abstract | PDF | HTML
 
Identity (ID) Theft Toolkit (2014) OVC-Sponsored, Grant, 2 pages, NCJ 248389.
National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network (NITVAN) coalitions across the country each contributed to the creation of this toolkit for victim advocates, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and anyone else involved in assisting victims. In this toolkit, you’ll find guidance on improving and expanding service to identity theft victims, starting a collaborative group in your area, as well as downloadable, ready-to-customize training materials, brochures, and more.
Abstract | HTML
 
Innovative Practices for Victim Services: Report From the Field (December 2014) OVC, Bulletin, 20 pages, NCJ 248495.
This e-bulletin provides brief descriptions of the innovative practices currently used by VOCA victim assistance and compensation programs throughout the country. This online resource promotes the replication of these practices, which cover six key program areas: needs assessment, systems advocacy and coordination, compensation, underserved populations, victims’ rights and services, and technology.
Abstract | HTML
 
Circle of Healing for Native Children Endangered by Drugs (December 2014) OVC, 0 pages, NCJ 248443.
This seven-video series and companion resource guide feature Native programs and practices that incorporate cultural stories and traditions to help children, families, and communities in Indian Country to heal from substance abuse-related trauma.
Abstract | HTML
 

OJP Publications

Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report (February 2015) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 551 pages, NCJ 248680.
This report documents the Detroit Sexual Assault Action-Research Project, in which a multidisciplinary team looked at the issue of a large number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that had not been sent to a crime lab for DNA-testing. The team identified the underlying factors that contributed to the issue; developed and evaluated a plan for testing the SAKs; and created and evaluated protocols for notifying victims of the results of the testing. The report also offers practitioner-friendly resources, including how to create victim-notification protocols.
Abstract | PDF
 
Improving Human Trafficking Victim Identification-Validation and Dissemination of a Screening Tool (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 455 pages, NCJ 246712.
This guide provides users with recommendations on how to build trust with potential victims, maintain confidentiality, and use the tool correctly. When properly used, the tool could give victim service providers, law enforcement and legal, healthcare, and social service providers with a standard means of identifying victims of human trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Screening for Human Trafficking: Guidelines for Administering the Trafficking Victim Identification Tool (TVIT) (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 37 pages, NCJ 246713.
This tool is designed for victim service providers and other providers to assist in identifying victims of human trafficking. Developed over the last seven years by the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with 11 victim service organizations in California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Washington, this NIJ-funded tool has been validated with a diverse sample of potential victims of trafficking and found reliable in predicting labor and sex trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Practical Implications of Current Intimate Partner Violence Research for Victim Advocates and Service Providers (January 2013) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 260 pages, NCJ 244348.
This report expands and enhances the 2009 report titled "Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges" to address the practical implications of current domestic violence research for victim advocates and service providers.
Abstract | PDF
 
No More Rights Without Remedies: An Impact Evaluation of the National Crime Victim Law Institute's Victims' Rights Clinics, Final Technical Report (2012) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 125 pages, NCJ 241752.
This grant report evaluates the National Crime Victim Law Institute's (NCVLI) victims' rights clinics. The clinics were designed to increase awareness of victims' rights among criminal justice professionals and to respond to violations of rights through legal advocacy. The current report examines the clinics' impact on the expansion of rights for victims, on court officials' attitudes toward victims' rights, on the extent to which victims' rights are honored in the criminal disposition process, and on the treatment of victims' rights in the print media. It also includes a discussion of sustainability of the clinics.
Abstract | PDF
 

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Victim and witness assistance programs ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes are treated with fairness and respect, afforded their rights, and provided with the services they need to help ease the impact of victimization. Victim and witness assistance services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and transportation, counseling, and criminal justice advocacy. All states and most territories receive annual state victim assistance program formula grants that must be used to support local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims.

The following resources provide additional information about victim and witness assistance programs and services.


Victim and witness assistance programs ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes are treated with fairness and respect, afforded their rights, and provided with the services they need to help ease the impact of victimization. Victim and witness assistance services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and transportation, counseling, and criminal justice advocacy. All states and most territories receive annual state victim assistance program formula grants that must be used to support local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims.

The following resources provide additional information about victim and witness assistance programs and services.


Each month the Nation's experts answer your questions about best practices in victim services. Below are upcoming and most recent session discussions in this topic:

On May 5 2015 at 2:00PM, Cris Sullivan, Director of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence and Professor of Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State Univers, and Keri Darling, founder and Director/Trainer of DVAS, Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services, hosted a discussion on Build Your Own Body of Evidence-Based Knowledge

On Apr 22 2015 at 2:00PM, Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children's Alliance, and Rebecca Khalil, J.D., staff attorney with the National Crime Victim Law Institute, hosted a discussion on Child Victims: Providing Effective Rights Enforcement Representation

On Apr 8 2015 at 2:00PM, Ann McCarty, Associate Director of the North County (California) Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center, and Leah Holland, former sexual assault response coordinator and domestic violence victim advocate coordinator, U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, South Korea, hosted a discussion on Providing Appropriate Support for Military Victims of Sexual Assault

On Mar 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Katie Monroe, Senior Advocate for National Partnerships at the Innocence Project, and Karin Ho, brings over 30 years combined experience as a victim advocate in the sexual assault, domestic violence and postconviction corrections field, hosted a discussion on Postconviction Exonerations and Victim Assistance

On Feb 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Jennifer Burkmire, advocate for children and a contract consultant for nonprofit organizations that provide social services, and Cynthia King, President of King & Associates, Inc, hosted a discussion on Developing an Effective Multidisciplinary Team

Victim and witness assistance programs ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes are treated with fairness and respect, afforded their rights, and provided with the services they need to help ease the impact of victimization. Victim and witness assistance services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and transportation, counseling, and criminal justice advocacy. All states and most territories receive annual state victim assistance program formula grants that must be used to support local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims.

The following resources provide additional information about victim and witness assistance programs and services.


What type of protection does the U.S. Department of Justice provide to trafficking victims?
Information for trafficking victims is available in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) brochu... Read More

What is victim assistance?
Each year, states and territories receive Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to support community-bas... Read More

I am crime victim, how can I get help?
Help in your area is available from your State/Local Victim Compensation and Assistance programs. As... Read More

When may I submit my nomination for the National Crime Victims' Service Awards?
OVC is now accepting nominations for the 2016 National Crime Victims' Service Awards. These awards r... Read More

Does OVC provide direct services for victims of crime?
Yes. OVC provides direct services to people victimized on Tribal or federal lands, such as military ... Read More

More FAQs

Victim and witness assistance programs ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes are treated with fairness and respect, afforded their rights, and provided with the services they need to help ease the impact of victimization. Victim and witness assistance services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and transportation, counseling, and criminal justice advocacy. All states and most territories receive annual state victim assistance program formula grants that must be used to support local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims.

The following resources provide additional information about victim and witness assistance programs and services.


FY 2015 Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant Training Program for VOCA Victim Assistance Grantees (PDF 114 kb)
Deadline: 07/01/2015
OVC will award each eligible state victim assistance program a noncompetitive discretionary grant to support training and technical assistance to VOCA victim assistance service providers and others who work with crime victims. Uses for these additional funds include, but are not limited to, enhancing existing State Victim Assistance Academies (SVAAs) or establishing new SVAAs; and supporting statewide training initiatives, crime victim related conferences, basic training for new programs for underserved victims, and scholarships to service providers and others who work with crime victims. Those applying are urged to begin in advance of the July 1, 2015, deadline.

More Funding Opportunities

Victim and witness assistance programs ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes are treated with fairness and respect, afforded their rights, and provided with the services they need to help ease the impact of victimization. Victim and witness assistance services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, emergency shelter and transportation, counseling, and criminal justice advocacy. All states and most territories receive annual state victim assistance program formula grants that must be used to support local community-based organizations and public agencies that provide services directly to victims.

The following resources provide additional information about victim and witness assistance programs and services.


Publications

OVC and OVC-Sponsored Publications

Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma DVD (April 2015) OVC, 0 pages, NCJ 239938. This video series addresses the needs of children exposed to crime, abuse, and violence; highlights major issues in child victimization; identifies promising practices for service providers and others working with young victims; and shows how trauma-informed care can help child victims recover to lead healthy, productive lives. Online only companion resource guides accompany each video.
Abstract | HTML
 
2015 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide (January 2015) OVC, 182 pages, NCJ 247813. The 2015 NCVRW Resource Guide, released ahead of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 19 to 25, highlights this year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims. The Guide includes a wide array of user-friendly outreach tools and sample products, a Theme DVD, current statistics on victimization, information on the history of victims’ rights in the United States, and concrete, practical ideas for engaging your community and empowering victims. Hardcopy versions of this year's Guide, which can be ordered through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) at www.ncjrs.gov, include Introductory Materials and NCVRW Resource Guide Artwork.
Abstract | PDF | HTML
 
Identity (ID) Theft Toolkit (2014) OVC-Sponsored, Grant, 2 pages, NCJ 248389. National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network (NITVAN) coalitions across the country each contributed to the creation of this toolkit for victim advocates, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and anyone else involved in assisting victims. In this toolkit, you’ll find guidance on improving and expanding service to identity theft victims, starting a collaborative group in your area, as well as downloadable, ready-to-customize training materials, brochures, and more.
Abstract | HTML
 
Innovative Practices for Victim Services: Report From the Field (December 2014) OVC, Bulletin, 20 pages, NCJ 248495. This e-bulletin provides brief descriptions of the innovative practices currently used by VOCA victim assistance and compensation programs throughout the country. This online resource promotes the replication of these practices, which cover six key program areas: needs assessment, systems advocacy and coordination, compensation, underserved populations, victims’ rights and services, and technology.
Abstract | HTML
 
Circle of Healing for Native Children Endangered by Drugs (December 2014) OVC, 0 pages, NCJ 248443. This seven-video series and companion resource guide feature Native programs and practices that incorporate cultural stories and traditions to help children, families, and communities in Indian Country to heal from substance abuse-related trauma.
Abstract | HTML
 

OJP Publications

Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report (February 2015) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 551 pages, NCJ 248680. This report documents the Detroit Sexual Assault Action-Research Project, in which a multidisciplinary team looked at the issue of a large number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that had not been sent to a crime lab for DNA-testing. The team identified the underlying factors that contributed to the issue; developed and evaluated a plan for testing the SAKs; and created and evaluated protocols for notifying victims of the results of the testing. The report also offers practitioner-friendly resources, including how to create victim-notification protocols.
Abstract | PDF
 
Improving Human Trafficking Victim Identification-Validation and Dissemination of a Screening Tool (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 455 pages, NCJ 246712. This guide provides users with recommendations on how to build trust with potential victims, maintain confidentiality, and use the tool correctly. When properly used, the tool could give victim service providers, law enforcement and legal, healthcare, and social service providers with a standard means of identifying victims of human trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Screening for Human Trafficking: Guidelines for Administering the Trafficking Victim Identification Tool (TVIT) (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 37 pages, NCJ 246713. This tool is designed for victim service providers and other providers to assist in identifying victims of human trafficking. Developed over the last seven years by the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with 11 victim service organizations in California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Washington, this NIJ-funded tool has been validated with a diverse sample of potential victims of trafficking and found reliable in predicting labor and sex trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Practical Implications of Current Intimate Partner Violence Research for Victim Advocates and Service Providers (January 2013) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 260 pages, NCJ 244348. This report expands and enhances the 2009 report titled "Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges" to address the practical implications of current domestic violence research for victim advocates and service providers.
Abstract | PDF
 
No More Rights Without Remedies: An Impact Evaluation of the National Crime Victim Law Institute's Victims' Rights Clinics, Final Technical Report (2012) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 125 pages, NCJ 241752. This grant report evaluates the National Crime Victim Law Institute's (NCVLI) victims' rights clinics. The clinics were designed to increase awareness of victims' rights among criminal justice professionals and to respond to violations of rights through legal advocacy. The current report examines the clinics' impact on the expansion of rights for victims, on court officials' attitudes toward victims' rights, on the extent to which victims' rights are honored in the criminal disposition process, and on the treatment of victims' rights in the print media. It also includes a discussion of sustainability of the clinics.
Abstract | PDF
 

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Related Resources

OVC Funded Resources

Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims
For over a decade, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has collaborated with OVC to promote crime victim rights and facilitate law enforcement's ability to effectively address victim needs. One of the key milestones of this collaboration includes the 21st Century Strategy for Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims, consisting of the Strategy, the Implementation Guide, the Resource Toolkit, and the Training Supplemental. This Web site, which captures the 21st Century Strategy and a number of other victim-related materials and publications, serves as a unique law enforcement resource center for enhanced victim response.
 
Identity Theft Victim Assistance Network Project
The Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center, Inc. (MCVRC), with funding from OVC, this project seeks to improve the response (infrastructure, training, outreach tools, and direct victim assistance services) to victims of identity theft nationwide.
 
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Human Trafficking
OVC’s human trafficking Web site contains a wide range of information including resources and research from the Federal Government, publications and products from OVC, local and national direct assistance information, and related funding opportunities for victims and survivors of human trafficking, victim service providers, law enforcement, and allied professionals.
 
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
RAINN operates a 24-hour telephone hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) and an Online Hotline for victims of sexual assault. The secure web-based hotline provides a safe, secure, and anonymous place for victims to get help online. RAINN also works to promote education and prevention of sexual assault, compiles and shares links to Legal Resources, including the State Mandatory Regulations regarding children and the elderly.
 

Federal Resources

Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP)
OVC manages AEAP, which offers five funding streams to provide timely relief to communities affected by terrorism and criminal mass violence for immediate and ongoing victim assistance services in the form of grants to qualifying applicants (including state victim assistance and compensation programs); U.S. Attorneys' Offices; federal, state, and local governments; and nongovernmental victim service organizations.
 
Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline
The Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline is a confidential crisis support service for adult service members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault. Operated by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the helpline provides live, one-on-one expert advice and information 24/7.
 
Department of Defense (DOD): Victim and Witness Assistance Council (VWAC)
The Council's Web site offers information and links to assist victims, and witnesses to crimes on military installations. Resources include contact information for victim and witness assistance coordinators for the Coast Guard, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Marine Corps, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Each branch of services has: 1) An interdisciplinary Victim and Witness Assistance Council; 2)a Family Advocacy Program designed to prevent and treat child and spouse abuse; and 3) a central repository for tracking notice of the status of offenders confined in military correctional facilities. In addition, local councils have been established at each major military installation to ensure that an interdisciplinary approach is followed by victim and witness service providers.
 
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
Sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs, NCJRS offers information on victimology and victim assistance, criminal justice, juvenile justice, information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide. NCJRS supplies the victim services field with resources, publications, and program information. The NCJRS library collection includes more than 30,000 resources relevant to the field.
 
National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
NREPP is a searchable online registry of more than hundreds of interventions supporting mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.
 

Non-Governmental Resources

Center for Child and Family Studies
The Center for Child and Family Studies partners with public and private agencies to build, maintain, and restore families and communities.
 
Crime Victims Advocacy Council
Crime Victims Advocacy Council seeks to help crime victims cope with their suffering and pain by concentrating their energies and resources in support groups, community education, crime prevention, raising community consciousness and acting as an advocate for crime victim’s rights.
 
Maiti Nepal
Maiti Nepal was born out of a crusade to protect Nepali girls and women from crimes like domestic violence, trafficking for flesh trade, child prostitution, child labor and various forms of exploitation and torture.
 
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
NNEDV works closely with domestic violence coalitions, allied organization, and individuals to understand the ongoing and emerging needs of domestic violence victims and advocacy programs.
 
Salvation Army: Combating Human Trafficking
These pages provide highlights of The Salvation Army's efforts to eradicate human trafficking.
 

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Web Forum Discussions

Each month the Nation's experts answer your questions about best practices in victim services. Below are upcoming and most recent session discussions in this topic:

On May 5 2015 at 2:00PM, Cris Sullivan, Director of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence and Professor of Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State Univers, and Keri Darling, founder and Director/Trainer of DVAS, Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services, hosted a discussion on Build Your Own Body of Evidence-Based Knowledge

On Apr 22 2015 at 2:00PM, Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children's Alliance, and Rebecca Khalil, J.D., staff attorney with the National Crime Victim Law Institute, hosted a discussion on Child Victims: Providing Effective Rights Enforcement Representation

On Apr 8 2015 at 2:00PM, Ann McCarty, Associate Director of the North County (California) Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center, and Leah Holland, former sexual assault response coordinator and domestic violence victim advocate coordinator, U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, South Korea, hosted a discussion on Providing Appropriate Support for Military Victims of Sexual Assault

On Mar 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Katie Monroe, Senior Advocate for National Partnerships at the Innocence Project, and Karin Ho, brings over 30 years combined experience as a victim advocate in the sexual assault, domestic violence and postconviction corrections field, hosted a discussion on Postconviction Exonerations and Victim Assistance

On Feb 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Jennifer Burkmire, advocate for children and a contract consultant for nonprofit organizations that provide social services, and Cynthia King, President of King & Associates, Inc, hosted a discussion on Developing an Effective Multidisciplinary Team


FAQs

What type of protection does the U.S. Department of Justice provide to trafficking victims?
Information for trafficking victims is available in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) brochu... Read More

What is victim assistance?
Each year, states and territories receive Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to support community-bas... Read More

I am crime victim, how can I get help?
Help in your area is available from your State/Local Victim Compensation and Assistance programs. As... Read More

When may I submit my nomination for the National Crime Victims' Service Awards?
OVC is now accepting nominations for the 2016 National Crime Victims' Service Awards. These awards r... Read More

Does OVC provide direct services for victims of crime?
Yes. OVC provides direct services to people victimized on Tribal or federal lands, such as military ... Read More

Back to Top


Funding

FY 2015 Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant Training Program for VOCA Victim Assistance Grantees (PDF 114 kb)
Deadline: 07/01/2015
OVC will award each eligible state victim assistance program a noncompetitive discretionary grant to support training and technical assistance to VOCA victim assistance service providers and others who work with crime victims. Uses for these additional funds include, but are not limited to, enhancing existing State Victim Assistance Academies (SVAAs) or establishing new SVAAs; and supporting statewide training initiatives, crime victim related conferences, basic training for new programs for underserved victims, and scholarships to service providers and others who work with crime victims. Those applying are urged to begin in advance of the July 1, 2015, deadline.

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National Calendar of Crime Victim Assistance-Related Events
Upcoming Event(s)
41st National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) Conference
Dallas, TX
08/16/2015-08/19/2015

National Center for Victims of Crime's 2015 National Training Institute
Anaheim, CA
09/09/2015-09/11/2015

Online Directory of Crime Victims Services.