Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reflections on Exciting Changes to Victim Compensation

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

As we head into the busy holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to share with you all the important activities that have recently occurred at the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board in the fall and my hope that they lead to improved support and added benefit for victims across California.

First, we had two successful conferences – one in Southern California at UCLA, the other, in Northern California, at UC Davis – that attracted more than 450 victim service advocates, compensation staff and law enforcement officers. Our subject – collaboration and how to best reach and help the State’s underserved victims – was well-received and embraced by our audience. These engaging events also provided great networking opportunities and motivation for all of us to continue to carry on the good work we do on behalf of California’s survivors. We are gathering feedback from the attendees and hope to build on the best of those events with another series of conferences next year.

We have also made great strides effecting positive change through our Modernization Initiative. As the nation’s first, and largest, victim compensation program in America, we want to continue to lead the nation by ensuring that our laws, regulations and policies support rather than impede our efforts to get victims the help they need.

One such new law, AB 1140, was authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta of Oakland and goes into effect on January 1, 2016. This legislation modernizes program statutes, improves access to benefits and eliminates some eligibility restrictions for victims. The bill was the culmination of months of planning and collaboration, and involved many valuable contributors from the victim services community, along with the leadership of Assemblymember Bonta. We wish to thank Assemblymember Bonta and his staff, and all of you for your support of this important piece of legislation.

And just last month, our Board directed us to pursue a wide range of benefit changes to help victims of violent crime. These measures, which will involve either regulatory or legislative processes before they can become effective, include increasing a number of benefits, such as relocation and crime-scene cleanup, and extending new benefits to aid our claimants – child care, case management and transportation, to name just a few. We have also been given authorization from the Board to raise our overall benefit cap from $63,000 to $70,000 – the previous cap prior to the rough economic downturn that hit all of us hard.

We have begun work on these changes and will share more information with you about each proposed benefit enhancement as we move into the new year.

Looking ahead, we plan to work with you and other victim service leaders more collaboratively through a multi-faceted Collaboration Plan we developed through a grant provided by the federal Office for Victims of Crime. This Plan will feature new trainings, updated publications, educational videos and outreach designed to best reach underserved populations in the State.

I will share more updates as we move forward with these exciting new plans, and how you can get involved.

Thank you for all that you do to help our survivors. We can’t do it without you. And neither can they.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday with friends and family!

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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

The question we ask ourselves during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and throughout the year, is how do we, as a community, turn awareness into action? How do we spark a change across the state?

“Silence Hides Violence: Be a Voice” was the California Victim Compensation Program’s (CalVCP) theme and call to action during DVAM as we step up to make a change and encourage others to do the same.

Domestic violence affects 12 million people every year in the U.S. including men, women, and children. It has many faces as it knows no gender, race or ethnicity. It is no secret that domestic violence occurs; however, it is a silent problem. We must be a voice for domestic violence survivors.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Domestic Violence: Driving Change

By Virginia Witt, Director, NO MORE

Domestic Violence affects over 12 million people in the U.S. every year. Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner. Sadly, domestic violence also affects our children. The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect suggests that domestic violence may be a major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in this country. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or economic status.

Victims and perpetrators of domestic violence are people we know in our families, churches, schools and neighborhoods. Although it can be overwhelming to figure out how to help victims and stop these crimes, each of us holds the power to be an active bystander and help prevent further abuse.

In 2013 the NO MORE campaign was launched in partnership with over two dozen national domestic violence and sexual assault organizations and major corporations to serve as a unified voice to bring national attention to these issues.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Going Beyond Awareness to Understanding — In October, the Golden State Turns Purple

By Jessica Merrill, Communications & Development Manager at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

You’ve probably heard this familiar statistic: one in four women has experienced domestic violence. But what knowledge should you know to truly understand what survivors go through? To stand with survivors, ensuring that we create a culture where they are supported, believed and protected, it’s essential that we listen to their experiences and gain a nuanced understanding of the ways they’re marginalized.

For example, did you know that teens in abusive relationships are more likely to struggle academically? If we think about the many ways this has consequences in the lives of California’s youth, one solution becomes clear—school policies should address adolescent dating abuse and offer support to those who are affected by it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

From Victim to Survivor: The Path to Healing

By Christina Newby, Volunteer, Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence

While more and more people are beginning to understand that escaping a domestic violence relationship can be extremely difficult, it is also important to understand that the path to healing is equally challenging. Often, the survivor is in a state of crisis immediately following her escape. Her entire life has been turned on its head, and she is frantically searching for safety and stability. Even worse, she is trying to understand it all: “Why did I choose him? Why did he abuse me? What did I do wrong? What could I have done to make it work? How could he act like that if he said he loved me?” The questions seem endless.

Too often victims get caught up trying to fix the past. They try to understand the abuse, make sense of the abuser’s behavior. It’s normal and healthy to grieve the end of a relationship. But it’s impossible to change the past. And it’s impossible to change another person, especially an abuser.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Q-Spot: A Safe Place for All

By Alysia Angel, Youth Program Coordinator, Sacramento LGBT Community Center

The Sacramento LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Community Center creates events, programs, and services that help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people feel welcome, needed, and safe. One such program is called the Q-Spot.

The Q-Spot provides a safe place for LGBT kids to have access to meals and games, serving as a place to make friends while learning new skills. Located at 1927 L Street in Sacramento, the Q-Spot is small but affirming and inviting for youth that don't often receive affirmation for their sexual orientation or gender presentation. The staff and volunteers are trained to meet youth where they are, using harm reduction and empathy to understand what the youth need in that unique moment.

Between 200-250 youth visit the Q-Spot weekly for various services such as showers, food, much needed rest, laundry, and mental health respite. The Q-Spot is dedicated to maintaining community relationships, relying heavily on other organizations such as Wind Youth Services and The Gender Health Center to help serve Sacramento’s youth in the most loving and compassionate way possible.

Unfortunately, sexual assault and domestic violence happen in the LGBT community, too. When someone visits the Q-Spot because of sexual assault or domestic violence, the staff takes time to listen with compassion. They make sure the victim knows that they are valued and heard. Staff can also help victims find more resources in the community to aid them in their road to recovery.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Volunteers in Victim Assistance

It’s not like a job interview where you are able to prepare yourself for the future. You will never expect it to happen to you, and when it does, you probably won’t be prepared or mentally stable for the coming days, months, and years. No one expects to be a victim of violent crime, but in the unfortunate circumstance that violent crime does happen, Volunteers in Victim Assistance (VIVA) will be here for you.

“They can’t function, they can’t work, they can’t do anything,” says VIVA Executive Director Carole McDonald of crime victims. “They can be at a grocery store with a cart full of groceries and it hits, he’s never coming back again. The reality of what happened hits and that’s when they really need help.”

Located at 2020 Hurley Way in Sacramento, VIVA has been in operation under McDonald’s care for 32 years.

Crisis intervention, counseling, individual, family and group therapy, and advocacy are a few of the main services that VIVA offers. Their goal is to offer advocacy and therapy to anyone who walks through their door.

“They [victims] come in right after the crime takes place,” McDonald says. “They’re very confused, in shock, in the midst of funeral costs, and they have post-traumatic stress disorder. It takes a while to sink in.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Culture of Respect

By Allison Tombros Korman, Executive Director, Culture of Respect

An estimated one in five undergraduate women and one in sixteen undergraduate men experience attempted or completed sexual assault while attending college. Campus sexual assault is a decades-old problem affecting millions of young American women and men — a problem which is finally receiving the national attention it merits.

Many of the pieces necessary to change the culture on college and university campuses are in place. Pressure from survivors, student activists, the White House, the Justice and Education Departments, state governments, the press, documentary film makers, parents and the public have focused attention and demands on colleges and universities to acknowledge and deal with the problem of campus sexual assault. Colleges and universities should embrace this moment of awareness and combat campus sexual assault holistically and head-on.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The San Diego Family Justice Center: Providing Help and Hope to Victims of Family Violence

By the San Diego Family Justice Center

What do cancer and domestic violence have in common? Both are things you don’t want, erode your quality of life and are challenging issues without a single cure-all.

Fortunately, there’s good news. Just as modern cancer centers are staffed with highly trained oncologists and support specialists, a Family Justice Center attacks domestic violence in the same way; by treating the cause, not the symptoms — all in one location.

Founded in 2002, the San Diego Family Justice Center, located at 1122 Broadway, Suite 200 in downtown San Diego, is the first center in the world to co-locate all DV-related services under one roof. With the need to travel to multiple locations eliminated, this model significantly reduces the possibility of someone receiving conflicting advice from different service professionals.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Crime Victims' Rights Month: Commemorating 50 Years of Victim Services

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

Every April, the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) stands with our partners across the state in observance of California Crime Victims’ Rights Month, a time set aside for our state to show support for victims of violent crime, their families, and survivors. This year is even more significant as CalVCP commemorates its 50th year of serving victims of violent crime in California. And through our fifty years, we have been proud to have such great partners throughout the state to aid in providing services, protecting victims’ rights, and making a difference in the lives of thousands of victims of crime. Since 1965, CalVCP has provided over $2.3 billion in services, and we will continue to work with our partners to provide these services for our great state and the people who need them. It is fitting that this year’s theme is “Engaging Communities, Empowering Victims,” as it certainly reflects California’s commitment to increasing community awareness of crime victim issues and examining prevention and safety.

As a community, we must come together to ensure that victims and survivors of violent crime know they are not alone and that their community stands with them. People who have been impacted by violent crime should know that there is help available. We can all work together to ensure that those who commit a crime face justice. As a community, we will ensure that victims and survivors receive the care they need. We must educate those around us about the immediate and long-term impacts of crime and how we can better prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place. By engaging entire communities, we can better extend victim service resources to where they need to be and serve those who need them.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Family Justice Centers?

By Cherri N. Allison, Esq.

Imagine that you are a domestic violence victim and the mother of two small children under the age of ten. You have been in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for 12 years. You are a stay at home mom and your husband controls all of the family finances. You have just found out you are pregnant and are afraid to tell your spouse because the last time you did the violence escalated. You literally have nowhere to turn. The police have been to your home several times and you have been in the hospital emergency room more than once. Before the Alameda County Family Justice Center opened in 2005 you literally had to navigate dozens of agencies in a county that spans 821 square miles. You must maneuver a medical system; navigate criminal and civil legal systems, and a court system that is incomprehensible at best. At the same time you are experiencing extreme emotional and financial stress and the possibility of homelessness. There must be a better way!

Simply locating different organizations in one space is not necessarily innovative nor does it inspire systems change or movement building. However, when the people who lead those organizations and maintain those systems begin to reach across barriers, real or imagined, such as the language of disciplines, stereotypes and implicit bias, client service delivery changes. Letting go of the need to be right, demystifying program and systems content are at the core of the Family Justice Center model. We must make thinking outside the boundaries the norm and operate from a client centered, strength based perspective to implement systems change work that has positive implications for clients.

Monday, March 9, 2015


By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

It is a sad reality, but sexual assault and domestic violence occur every day to the people around us — our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends. It seems that more and more of the headlines we see in the news are centered around these crimes. It has plagued the NFL, haunted celebrities, and ignited national attention and debate.

Today marks the beginning of #NOMOREWeek. A time when we all stand together and call for the end of domestic violence and sexual assault. It is a national effort to engage every community, individual, and organization to say NO MORE and to educate the public on how they can get involved and be part of the solution.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Activities Work to Break the Cycle of Violence

By Lindsay Sweetnam, Program Director, La Casa de las Madres

Over 38 years ago, in 1976, a dynamic coalition of Bay Area women gathered to found La Casa de las Madres, California’s first and the nation’s second shelter dedicated to women and children escaping domestic violence.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), when our Teen Program ramps up its year-round efforts and implements special programming to educate Bay Area youth about dating violence and the services available to those affected by it. Through activities at high schools and various community locations, public service announcements over the airwaves, social media, and more, La Casa is raising its voice: to empower youth to recognize abuse, to demand healthy relationships for themselves and their peers, and to reach out for help if it is needed.

Monday, February 2, 2015

It’s Time to Talk

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

For many, February is known as a month for romance and strengthening our relationships. Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy and for some, including many young people, can be abusive.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, or “teenDVmonth” is a national effort to raise awareness about teen dating violence and abuse. All throughout February, nonprofits, individuals, and organizations come together, sparking a conversation about this unfortunate form of abuse.

As President Barack Obama declared in a presidential proclamation about teenDVmonth, “In a 12-month period, one in 10 high school students nationwide reported they were physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend. Still more experienced verbal or emotional abuse like shaming, bullying or threats.”

Friday, January 23, 2015

Break Free and 3Strands Global, Inc. Join Forces to Combat Human Trafficking

Two Organizations with One Vision

By Ashlie M. Bryant, Global Executive Vice President, Development and Outreach, 3Strands Global, Inc.

3Strands Global recently merged to unite and mobilize a global community of individuals and organizations to combat human trafficking. Together as one organization, 3Strands Global, Inc. and Break Free will provide jobs, raise funds, build awareness and provide education and resources to fight human trafficking. We are in this fight together because we believe human trafficking and modern day slavery are NOT OK, and everyone can make a difference.

The timing was right for both organizations to come together and rally around this cause. There is a shared common vision to end human trafficking and build a worldwide community of supporters in order to do so.The expanded community of individuals and partners is rapidly growing and working together as a united front toward the common vision to end human trafficking. Our mission is to combat human trafficking through sustainable employment, education and engagement initiatives. Each initiative takes on a unique approach to combatting human trafficking, and the combination of all three initiatives is a powerful approach and enables change.

Friday, January 9, 2015

In the Fight Against Human Trafficking, Why Truckers?

By Lyn Thompson, Co-Founder, Truckers Against Trafficking

When working on a strategy to fight human trafficking, one of the first steps should be to determine which groups of people have the greatest opportunity to spot human trafficking as it is happening. In other words, who could serve as the primary surveillance?

When it comes to this crime, those front-line people include such groups as medical personnel, who treat victims in medical clinics, and service personnel in local neighborhoods (such as postal workers, and cable, electrical, and water providers), who come by homes on a regular basis and would notice if something unusual was going on. Restaurant and hotel personnel could also see trafficking taking place in their establishments, as could members of the transportation industry, including airport employees. Traffickers are continually transporting victims to sell them in a variety of places.

Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) began in 2009 as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries to work with the trucking industry, which is seven million strong. Truckers are trained to be extremely observant.