Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Domestic Violence and its Effects on Children

By Alexandria Farrell, Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention

CalVCB logo and text: Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October 2018.
Imagine being a child, sitting in your room playing, quiet and carefree. Then out of nowhere, the happy space you have created is drowned out by an unpleasant and familiar sound. Mom and dad are fighting again. Do you run out of your room and try to intervene or do you stay, trying to escape the noise in the safe space of your room. As the fights go on, becoming more frequent, louder, and scarier, your safe space continues to get smaller and smaller until eventually it doesn’t exist anymore. This may seem like a bad dream to you, but for some children, this is reality. More than five million children witness domestic violence in the United States each year. These children are three times more likely to repeat this cycle as adults.

Now, what constitutes domestic violence? The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of behavior that one person in a relationship uses to control the other. The pattern of behavior can be expressed in a variety of ways, such as via verbal, emotional, physical, financial and/or sexual abuse. When a child is exposed to domestic violence it means that the child has heard or seen one or both parents or guardians engage in violent behaviors or has seen the effects of violent behaviors. This can include witnessing or hearing the violence firsthand, hearing about it when it is discussed after the fact or seeing marks or bruises on a parent or guardian.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: A Time to Take Action

by Sandra Henriquez, CEO, CALCASA

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) is excited to partner with public officials, college campuses, law enforcement, victim advocates and communities across California to raise awareness.

Over the past year, we have witnessed sexual assault receive national attention through the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Survivors who once suffered in silence for decades have found the courage to publically speak out and have been greeted by a society no longer tolerant of rape and abuse. As we enter Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we have the opportunity to continue to create positive change.


In February, CALCASA released a new report The Costs and Consequences of Sexual Violence in California. The report was commissioned by CALCASA in an effort to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault upon California taxpayers. For some, the idea of discussing the economic impact of sexual harassment and violence appears unseemly. While sexual harassment and assault are very personal, in order to understand their impact, we need to look at them in the aggregate and in their environments. Families, friends, partners, neighbors and co-workers know firsthand the time and resources necessary to recover from sexual violence. But never before has there been a comprehensive, quantitative analysis of how much this utterly preventable crime costs the state. By collectivizing rapes and other acts of sexual violence, we can see their broader impact.

At a minimum, the report reveals how ALL Californians have an investment in eliminating sexual violence. This year CALCASA’s focus for Sexual Assault Awareness Month brings out key components of our report in order to create greater comprehension of the physical, emotional, social, and economic impact of rape and sexual assault. We believe, and the research demonstrates, that building thriving communities and supporting healthy relationships can prevail over sexual violence and we can do this by investing in prevention.

Moving forward, we need to focus on prevention in response to the impacts of sexual violence in our communities. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, CALCASA developed resources to share the consequences of rape and sexual assault, enhance the visibility of our efforts to end sexual violence, and the need to move forward with prevention. Focusing on prevention can help strengthen and grow the support for survivors and our communities.

CALCASA is honored to support the 84 rape crisis centers and rape prevention programs that serve all of California, provide survivors with a place to turn in their time of need, and take action to prevent sexual violence. The time for survivors is now, to support and elevate their voices, and the time for prevention is now.

What will you do for Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Join CALCASA’s effort with the Partnership for $50 Million to end sexual and domestic violence.

If you are a victim/survivor of sexual violence, help and resources are available. Victims can call the free and confidential National Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-656-4673 or find their local agency at www.calcasa.org/agencies/.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Supply and Demand: The Complex Nature of Human Trafficking

by Emily Butler, on behalf of The Grace Network

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It occurs in every country, including most regions and cities throughout the United States. California is no exception. Over the last five years, California has reported the most human trafficking cases in the nation according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It takes many forms, including commercial sex, bonded labor, domestic servitude, etc.

Victims may be both minors or adults, foreign-born or U.S. born, males or females. Trafficking may take place in homes, hotels, massage parlors, bars, online or any other myriad of locations.

So, what can be done to help victims and potential victims of this exploitation?

Photo of young girl with barcode on her arm. CalVCB logo. Text next to photo: January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. victims.ca.gov.
While law enforcement plays an important role, the truth is that there is work that can be done by any community member to help prevent trafficking in our communities. In trafficking, there is a supply of victims, demand from people willing to pay for their exploitation and facilitators looking to make a profit. The prevention of human trafficking requires that we address all three.

In sex trafficking, most of the supply of victims in California come from youth who end up in the system — kids who are runaways, throwaways or victims of abuse or neglect. These kids are vulnerable to facilitators who pose as loving boyfriends or father figures, people who prey on their vulnerability.

Fortunately, there are already groups and organizations doing just that, often without the label of “fighting human trafficking.” They simply need more resources and manpower to continue their good work.

Groups that are directly or indirectly working to stop the supply of victims are any organizations that help empower and protect vulnerable youth. Among these agencies are group homes, foster care homes, after school programs, community centers, homeless shelters, drop-in centers and trauma recovery centers.

These groups are also helping to transform those who could become facilitators in the commercial sex trade. Young men and women who could become exploiters can find a different path through the influence of mentors and other opportunities.

The demand in sex trafficking comes from sex buyers, mostly men, who consume commercial sex, whether online, in clubs or on the streets. Groups that contribute to ending the demand work to stop the consumption of pornography, provide support groups for men and pursue other forms of accountability in the commercial sex trade.

The fight against human trafficking requires an army — it requires people to be aware and it requires that people get involved in their communities to serve vulnerable youth by helping give them opportunities for a safe future.

If you are a victim of human trafficking, help is available. Victims can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or The Grace Network at (916) 850-0846 for assistance.

Friday, September 29, 2017

October's Important Conversation

By Julie Nauman, CalVCB Executive Officer

The start of October means the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month — a time to have an important conversation.

Family violence is a crime that impacts all races, ages and socioeconomic levels. No one is immune. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This equals more than 10 million men and women in a year.

In California, nearly 33 percent of adult women and 27 percent of adult men have experienced some kind of intimate partner physical violence in their lives.

Domestic violence is a complex issue. Many victims will closely guard a family violence secret, and at times, feel compelled to protect the abuser. No one wants to share that the person they care about, the pillar of the community or the one taking care of the family is hurting them.

Breaking the silence is the first crucial step in empowering victims. October’s annual observance provides an opportunity to listen, share stories of survival, or just have a conversation about an uncomfortable subject. It’s also a time to unite and raise awareness about the availability of resources for victims.

Those in the field of victim services know all too well that domestic violence carries both a physical and mental cost. What many do not realize is that there is also a financial cost.

The California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) can help with crime-related expenses such as medical care, mental health treatment, home security systems, relocation, income loss and more.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Human Trafficking Victims — Hiding In Plain Sight

By Julie Nauman, CalVCB Executive Officer

January is known nationwide as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, but how much do you know about this crime?

Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that occurs on every continent and in every country and state. In 2016 there were 5,748 human trafficking cases in the United States, 1,012 in California alone. Of the 3,130 calls made to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline last year in California, the largest percentage were from people who suspected human trafficking within their own communities.

Given these statistics, it’s likely you have come across a victim of human trafficking without even knowing it. She could be the woman next to you on the bus you take to work. She could be a little girl in your daughter’s class. He could be the one who picks the fruit you purchase at the local grocery store. Victims can be hard to identify because they look like us, and are often hidden in plain sight.

Even though victims may be all around us, we may not notice them because we don’t know what to look for.

Public awareness is one of the most important tools we have to fight human trafficking. By learning to recognize the signs and raising awareness in our communities, we can all take part in fighting this horrific epidemic.

A victim could be someone who:
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as they wish
  • Is unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips
  • Shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint or confinement
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid
The California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) provides hope for many victims and families of violent crimes. We cover crime-related expenses such as relocation, medical and mental health treatment, home security and more.

CalVCB was established over 50 years ago and remains the largest compensation program in the nation. We recognize that victims of human trafficking are often hesitant to come forward, but we work with victim advocates and service providers to ensure victims get the help they need to move forward with their lives.

If you believe you know a victim of human trafficking or have information about a potential human trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.


Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB). CalVCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Victimization of Sexual Assault Survivors

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

When the news broke that a Stanford University student, Brock Turner, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a campus party, many thought he would be punished with a jail sentence that fit the crime.

After all, there was physical evidence, two witnesses and an admission of guilt - end of story.

Like many abusers before him, Turner refused to take responsibility for his actions. He blamed friends, teammates, society, a college campus culture and the victim for his predatory behavior.

His statement after his attack was just as appalling as his assault against his incapacitated victim. In a letter, Turner described his actions as “the product of a culture of drinking, peer pressure and sexual promiscuity.”

In court, the victim impact statement said it all, “I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, who waited a year to figure out if I was worth something.”

Regardless of Turner’s sentence, his victim will pay a much steeper price. 

Survivors of violent crime face an uphill battle to recovery. They are deeply impacted physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, often feeling vulnerable and isolated. For sexual assault victims, the psychological trauma can be life-altering. 

Nothing can change what has happened. But there are services and programs in every county in California designed to help victims cope with the aftermath of sexual assault. At the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP), we help pay for mental health counseling, medical and dental treatment, relocation, home security and income loss, among other expenses. Over the last five years, our program has helped over 23,000 victims of sexual assault and paid more than $16 million in benefits to help them heal. 

As the victim in this case stated, she is a “human being who has been irreversibly hurt.” She is someone who might feel guilt, shame and blame as well as low self-esteem for years. She is someone who has a long recovery road ahead of her, but with support from family, friends and medical professionals she will prevail. She is a survivor. 

Sexual assault touches more lives than many realize. It not only impacts the victim, it impacts immediate family, friends and the community. If you or a loved one needs help, there are dozens of resources to turn to in California and CalVCP is among them.

No victim should have to justify why they were at a party, in a car, sleeping with their bedroom window cracked open or drinking alcohol. An unconscious person being dragged around at 2 a.m. behind a dumpster is not a consenting or a willing partner. It doesn’t take an elite education to figure that out. 



Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Looking Ahead: Human Trafficking Awareness Month

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

Greetings, and a very Happy New Year to you.

As we enter a new year together, it is a good time to reflect on our accomplishments from the past 12 months, but to also take inventory, and to take action on the work that lies ahead.

Such is the case with the subject of Human Trafficking. The month of January is set aside to increase awareness of this important topic, and to increase access to the services we provide to trafficking survivors. Today we acknowledge and honor Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is a part of a month-long commemoration set aside to increase awareness of this important topic and to increase access to the services we provide to trafficking survivors.

More than 20 million men, women and children around the world and in our own communities are currently victims of human trafficking — a $32 billion dollar industry that transcends age, gender, race and status. 

We have come a long way in how we now handle these cases. For years, state law did not allow these victims to receive benefits if they had participated in a crime or were involved in the events leading to their victimization. 

They were treated as prostitutes and disqualified, whether or not they had been forced into sexual slavery, and subjected to rape and physical and mental abuse. Many of them did what they had to do, simply to survive. We saw the need for change, and added a regulation in 2014 to allow them to get assistance from our California Victims Compensation Program (CalVCP).  

Since that time, we have received many applications from human trafficking victims — a population we had not served before. But we want to help all of these victims, so we need to collaborate with our partners to reach out to these individuals who desperately need our help.

trauma-informed training

In light of this, we are hosting a human trafficking trauma-informed training to educate our staff and our partners who work with these human trafficking victims. This training will be presented by Chris Stambaugh from The Grace Network, a grassroots organization that has mobilized thousands of people to combat human trafficking. Chris will discuss how they use technology to reach and serve victims, and will give a presentation on their free user-friendly resource app, “GraceCity” that allows first responders to access services for those affected by human trafficking. This training will be live-streamed on January 14, 2016 at 10 a.m. This focused training will be extremely informative and helpful as we continue to explore better ways to meet the unique needs of these survivors.

The training builds upon our earlier human trafficking workshop presented by Opening Doors, which is available to view anytime. This workshop gives insight into how you can identify a victim of sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage and the psychological mechanisms behind the abuse.  

Additionally, we have developed a short public service announcement (PSA) featuring our Board member, and San Bernardino County District Attorney, Michael Ramos. District Attorney Ramos has been a leader in California in recognizing that women, men, and children who are trafficked are victims of crime and their trafficking must be aggressively prosecuted. We ask that you share this PSA with your own networks.

As we go forward, CalVCP will continue to engage in the discussion of human trafficking and how this critical subject is handled through law enforcement and the victim services arena.

I am honored to work in a state dedicated to education and action, striving to make a tangible difference in the lives of victims. We invite you to participate in our workshops during Human Trafficking Awareness Month and we encourage you to join us in this effort to ensure that all victims of human trafficking receive the respectful and compassionate help they deserve.


Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.