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Domestic violence is very real and happens all over the world, for it does not discriminate. The effects of domestic violence are long lasting traumas in victims and children exposed to the abuse. The report on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia, in 2008, asserts that domestic violence is an act by a member of the family which involves force or coercions causing adults or children physical harm or reasonable fear of physical harm (McDonnell, 2008). Virginia State spends approximately 37 billion dollars because of the homicides projected to be around 16,800. The incidents of domestic violence in the state of Virginia are comparatively higher compared to other states (Virginia State Police, 2008).
Advocacy involves the pursuit of influencing outcomes; for instance, the inclusion of decisions of public-policy as well as the allocation of resources within political, economic, and social institutions that affect the lives of individuals directly. Advocates help provide a voice on behalf of those people unable to because of a crisis. The voice acts as a tool of empowerment.
The concept has found much use in social care since most of the individuals affected are vulnerable, isolated, or lacking family support networks (Macy et al., 2009). Service users are empowered through advocacy by making sure their needs are met. Also, the power balance is redressed through ensuring the involvement of public users in discussing options and negotiating agreements.
Social and Political Climate of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence threaten families, learning institutions, places of work, and the communities across Virginia. To respond to this threat, agencies, organizations, local government, as well as communities have worked tirelessly to end domestic violence through initiatives development focused at the prevention and responding to domestic violence. The state of Virginia has collaborated with the locals, healthcare organizations offering services to victims, legislative efforts to protect victims and promote accountability of offenders, as well as carry out campaigns of public awareness to bring to light issues of domestic violence.
In today’s rapidly moving world, individuals in Virginia find it difficult to manage all the commitments properly. People avoid family commitments because of giving more importance to professional as well as social obligations. Most families experience problems because of the decreased care is given to the members of the family. . However, the largest cause of domestic abuse is the desire for power and control by any means necessary. As times goes on, small domestic issues become bigger resulting to violence in the family (Jaffe, 2012).
Roles of Advocates and Stakeholders Involved
A collaborative genuine effort from the community, advocates, law and policy makers in Virginia is required to combat domestic violence. Several stakeholders must work together to guarantee hope as well as assist the victims of these acts of crime. Among the stakeholders and advocacy organizations in Virginia include the health, state police as well as criminal justice services department. Also, the Virginia’s Sexual as well as Domestic Violence Action Alliance deals with matters concerning domestic violence advocacy (McDonnell).
Virginia’s people are confronted by domestic violence on a daily basis. According to a report by the Virginia State Police produced in 2008, approximately 25 percent of the homicides were tied to domestic as well as sexual abuse in 2007 alone. Among the cases, 5009 were forcible sex offenders while the incidents of assault against members of the family were reported to be 22,515 cases (Virginia State Police).
Lawmakers, agencies, as well as organizations, increased their efforts in the fight against domestic violence in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Significant legislation was enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia to help domestic violence victims (Virginia State Police). The Virginia law was changed to include the elimination of the defense marriage in legal cases of rape, permitting sexually assaulted victims to undertake a forensic examination without them participating in the system of criminal justice, the prevention of victims undergoing polygraph testing, as well as the expansion of the pilot Address Confidentiality Program and so on.
The state, local, and private organizations collaborate to promote public awareness and improve the overall domestic violence response. For state and local agencies and organizations to assist in shining light to the issues confronting the community, they collect data related to domestic violence, sexual assault fatalities related to domestic violence, protective orders, and services offered to victims.
Additionally, State, as well as local agencies, collaborate on new initiatives aimed to improve the domestic violence response at all levels. Several state agency legislators, court system as well as organizations representatives were brought together by the commission on domestic violence formed by the governor to suggest ways to strengthen the law of Virginia. The collaborative resulted to the passing of several bills in the General Assembly Session of 2008 that ensures the protection for sexually assaulted victims (McDonnell).
Intensive training, as well as technical assistance, is provided by other state agencies including the partnership of Virginia that encourages arrest policies as well as Protection Orders Enforcement (GEAP) and non-profit organization agencies. Additionally, the partnership forged by GEAP works with stakeholders from the community to access domestic violence responses (McDonnell).
Advocacy Efforts, Current Attitudes and Policies
In 2008, the state, and local agencies as well as organizations across the Virginia’s commonwealth, developed new programs as well as initiatives to help fight against domestic violence (McDonnell). Among the initiatives include the attorney general’s office which carries out public awareness promotion through initiatives of domestic violence, training, as well as programs of grants.
In efforts to support the battle against of domestic violence, several agencies that provide funds to domestic violence initiatives have been formed. There are many funders that provide grants to domestic violence agencies to help raise awareness, education, resources, and training to domestic violence agencies, and the community. Efforts all contribute towards the effort to collect as well as analyze data, and make resources available to victims and their families.
How Advocacy Efforts have evolved
In the past, individuals, especially the youth were disengaged in civic affairs since they lacked political and social knowledge. Research asserts that the lack of knowledge is a result of the youth not being involved in processes of civic life. Currently, the youth have been provided with a chance to successfully take part in social change, ensuring they have a voice.
Domestic violence agency take great responsibility in educating youth on healthy relationships and how to cope with the exposure to domestic violence in their homes. Prevention is key with the youth in the community. Therefore, advocacy efforts are aimed towards this group in hopes of preventing future intimate dating violence. These advocacy efforts have promoted the development of a youth generation that carries these skills into adulthood.
Over the years, advocacy has evolved to the use of technology in passing information. Young adults use technology at a higher rate as compared to other age groups. Compared to other online modality, the use of social networking sites is increasingly more significant. While the youth are using social networking sites to get new friends, the strengthened existing networks easily translate into a strong network of advocacy when used appropriately. Social media and technology has increased the ability to reach all age groups, especially the youth, when advocating and educating the public on the effects of domestic violence and providing resources to safety planning, hotlines, and getting help. Because advocacy requires composed information, technology provides state as well as local agencies and organizations with these resources.
Over the years, technology has appeared to be a viable means to engage individuals over matters of domestic violence. Additionally, technology has improved the participation of individuals. The cost of using technology for advocacy efforts and public awareness is low, it enhances the participation quality, and increases the type of activities of advocacy being engaged (McDonnell).
Advocacy has also helped to reach out to higher authorities, such as the police departments, who now take domestic violence more seriously and is even incorporating the Lethal Assessment Protocol (LAP) program. The LAP program permits police officers to conduct a lethality assessment on the scene of a domestic violence incident, and if deemed lethal, the police officer will connect the victim with a domestic violence advocate while on the scene of the incident to help get the victim immediate services.
Outcome of Advocacy Work
The offenses of domestic violence affect the social services. Service providers for domestic violence engage in crisis interventions; as a result providing hotline, shelter, as well as services of advocacy to several victims. State and local agencies provide advocacy services. Examples of advocacy services provided are public education, safety planning, counseling, legal services, referrals, and financial and housing assistance. In 2008, advocacy agencies responded to approximately 47, 526 situations of crisis (McDonnell).
Additionally, local programs provided services of advocacy to 5,823 adults as well as 2,823 children (McDonnell). Thousands of domestic violence victims are provided with an emergency as well as temporary shelter services through sources of public and private funding. For instance, in 2007, the shelter programs of domestic violence provided approximately 3640 adults as well as 2796 children with 314,480 nights of emergency shelter (McDonnell).
It is evident that state, as well as local agencies and organizations, collaborate daily to improve the safety of domestic violence victims as well as promote the accountability of offenders. Advocacy agencies should put much focus on data collection and analysis. The process of evaluation is dependent on data collection for issues of domestic violence. Also, the Commonwealth of Virginia ought to continue encouraging the working together between interested parties at all levels of the government, for instance, the fatality review teams as well as community response teams at the local level (McDonnell).
Jaffe, P. G., Campbell, M., Hamilton, L. H., & Juodis, M. (2012). Children in danger of domestic homicide. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(1), 71-74.
Macy, R. J., Giattina, M., Sangster, T. H., Crosby, C., & Montijo, N. J. (2009). Domestic violence and sexual assault services: Inside the black box. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(5), 359-373.
McDonnell, R. F. (2008). Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia. Virginia: Office of the Attorney General.
Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. (2008). Domestic Violence Services in Virginia.
Virginia State Police. (2008). Crime in Virginia. Available at www.vsp.virginia.gov.
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