Monday, April 20, 2020

CalVCB Commemorates National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 19-25, 2020
By Lynda Gledhill, Interim Executive Officer

This April is one different from any other we have experienced. With California under a stay-at-home order, everyone is learning to deal with a different reality. This makes it even more important that we take the time to raise awareness for crime victims’ rights.

Each year we join a broad array of communities to recognize significant events such as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and Denim Day. These observances serve to remind us of the role we all play, to assist victims in their journey to becoming survivors.

The California Victim Compensation Board and its dedicated team of professionals administer programs designed to provide reimbursement for many crime-related expenses. Eligible individuals include victims who suffer physical injury or the threat of physical injury as a direct result of a violent crime. CalVCB funding comes directly from restitution paid by criminal offenders through fines, orders, penalty assessments and federal funds.

As the interim Executive Director of CalVCB, I want to assure anyone who is in need of our services, and those in the community assisting victims, that we are working just as hard, albeit remotely, to review applications, process claims and compensate victims and providers who look to us for help. Our online resources make that process even easier to access.

Last year, CalVCB launched an online portal allowing individuals to apply for reimbursement directly from our website. Since then, more than 5,000 people have used this new feature.

Applicants and advocates are encouraged to access this online option whenever possible. Providers can also use the portal to upload and submit necessary documents.

As CalVCB transitioned to telework, continuing to help victims of violent crimes was always the first priority. Our call center staff are all working from home and while call volume has remained steady, wait times have dropped.

CalVCB staff have processed 4,576 applications in the last four weeks, about 950 applications more than the month prior to the shelter from home order. Similarly, payments made were comparable to payments for to the month prior to working from home.

We know, however, that for some a stay at home order brings with it additional challenges and possible victimization. That can be because victims are forced to shelter in place with their abuser or additional challenges created by being separated from family members or friends. That is why it is important that our resources and services remain available and accessible for everyone in the state who is impacted by crime.

We acknowledge that money cannot alleviate the trauma of being a victim of crime. We proudly work with trauma recovery centers, district attorneys’ offices and law enforcement statewide.

This month concludes with the observance of Denim Day on April 29, a day in which individuals wear denim to support survivors and educate themselves and others about all forms of sexual violence. We here at CalVCB will join the millions of supporters throughout the world and wear denim as a sign of our solidarity.

As our lives continue to shift in this time of uncertainty, be assured that CalVCB will be here to help. 

For more information:

Friday, March 27, 2020

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Every April, the California Victim Compensation Board joins survivors, advocates, law enforcement and others to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Denim Day, which is on April 29th this year.

In Fiscal Year 2018-2019, CalVCB received more than 4,500 applications from sexual assault victims and paid almost $62 million to claimants.

Sexual assault survivors are every gender, race, age, income and sexuality.

One outspoken survivor now works with other girls and women, while continuing to break barriers. We are honored Preet Didbal, the former mayor of Yuba City, shared her survival story with CalVCB.

I spent the next few hours drifting in and out of consciousness while the doctors examined me. I felt very confused and groggy. It was during the next several hours I learned what happened to me- I had been raped. As the effects of Rohypnol started to wear off, I began seeing flashbacks of red and blue police lights, shadows of bushes or trees, the reflection of glass shields of some sort, with a mix of conversations and noises happening around me. Although I was not completely coherent, I recognized these images and sounds, but then I would drift off again into unconsciousness. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this began a journey that would challenge me to my very core. 

I wish I could write my story is unique, an anomaly, or a deviation from what has become all too prevalent in many women's experiences, but it is not. Sadly it is more commonplace than we may ever know or comprehend. Often survivors of sexual assault trauma like mine do not report it to the authorities because women are too afraid or ashamed to come forward. Consequently, their stories are only shared after they die, whether as a result of trauma inflicted by their abuser or because they find continuing life unbearable and resort to taking their own lives. I know how many times I contemplated taking my own life, and how close I came to doing just that. I know how it feels to hold the knife in your hand and rationalize that cutting your wrist is not just the only way to stop the pain, but also the best way. When I work with women's shelters today, I hear from far too many other women whose experiences mirror my own. If the physical violation is not traumatizing enough, the victim shaming, cultural prejudice, and gender bias inflicted by others only exacerbate the pain to the point of demoralization and even dehumanization. Ostracization becomes the pathetic new normal. For so long, I carried the physical and emotional scars inside of me and felt alone in battle. As difficult and scary as it was to talk about, my personal healing began with the support of strangers. People I never met before I was assaulted extended a hand of support, or words of kindness, when no one else did. It was with this benevolence and the repetitive words of my dad, ”one foot in front of the other; one step at a time” that I began my healing. 

My journey has not been an easy one, but I found the courage, despite the fear, to start asking for help. Asking for and receiving support were key steps in finding myself. None of the steps in recapturing one’s self-worth are easy, but it is important to note that it is possible! I, a Sikh American female, the first female in my family to go to college, who heard “no” and “you can’t” for 40+ years and navigated countless twists and turns in my path, was finally able to get traction in reclaiming my life and its value. Through the love and support of others and my own hard work, I was able to break through the stigma that a woman- sexually assaulted, brutally scrutinized, then re-victimized by society- had little to contribute. I am a contributor. In 2017 I became the first Sikh American woman in United States history elected the mayor of a city. 
Although I recognize the gravity of this accomplishment, I also realize the real triumph is sharing my story with other women in hopes it will give them aspiration, confidence, and
empowerment in their response to sexually inflicted trauma. I continue to work with women and young girls through Redefine and Empower, as well as serving as a Board Member of Casa de Esperanza, to instill courage, confidence, and self-esteem. We must continue to educate and provide resources to support, guide in healing, and restore women to ensure we do not lose any more precious lives as a result of this horrific act of violence. Every step, big or small, is a step toward finding the light in oneself. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I encourage everyone to share resources and come together to help those in need. 
With much gratitude, Preet Didbal 

The California Victim Compensation Board assists victims of sexual assault. Victims can apply for reimbursement for several services, including medical and mental health treatment, home security and relocation assistance.

Victims, victim advocates, victim representatives and attorneys can apply for compensation in several ways:
  • Create an application using CalVCB Online — a secure and private portal that can be easily accessed from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Contact a local county Victim Witness Assistance Center.
  • Call the CalVCB Help Line at (800) 777-9229.
  • Download an application from CalVCB's How to Apply page.
  • E-mail CalVCB at
Victims can apply within seven years of the date of the crime. Minor victims can apply by their 28th birthday.

Thursday, January 30, 2020


By Lynda Gledhill, Interim Executive Officer

Sex trafficking. Forced labor. Domestic servitude. All are considered human trafficking. Every January, the California Victim Compensation Board strives to raise awareness and let millions of victims know there is help, and a way out of this modern-day slavery.

Sex and labor trafficking are a $150 billion-a-year industry and the epidemic isn’t just occurring in foreign countries with lax laws. In the United States, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reports it handled nearly 11,000 human trafficking cases in 2018. California has the highest number of reported cases, with 1,656 reported cases, followed by Texas (1,000) and Florida (767).

Human trafficking affects people of all genders and races; however, women and girls are disproportionately trafficked. The International Labour Organization reports women and girls account for 99% of the victims in the commercial sex industry.

The cycle of human trafficking takes a heavy toll on victims. Human traffickers often prey on those considered vulnerable, including runaways, homeless youth and those in the child welfare system. According to the Polaris Project, some victims stay with their trafficker because they’re afraid to leave, lack transportation or a safe place to stay, are being held against their will, or have been manipulated to the point they do not even recognize they are under the control of another person.

Beyond recognizing the potential red flags, the Polaris Project points out there may not be anything visible to alert you a stranger is a victim of human trafficking. However, if you do suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, or any of our partner organizations.

We need people to stop stigmatizing the drug addict or prostitute on the corner as a lost cause, and begin to ask ourselves how they got there,” survivor Marjorie Saylor told the San Diego Union-Tribune in December. The founder and CEO of The Well Path went on to say, “We need more compassion for others. Recognize that not everyone who is being trafficked is aware that they are being exploited. Understand that our resilience is so much stronger than our trauma and that recovery can happen. Understand that recovery sometimes looks like going back out, again and again, until it finally sinks in.”

The California Victim Compensation Board assists victims of sex and labor trafficking. Human trafficking victims can apply for reimbursement of medical and mental health services and relocation assistance. In addition, under Assembly Bill 629, which became law on January 1, 2020, human trafficking victims may be eligible for up to $10,000 of income loss per year they were trafficked, for up to two years ($20,000 limit). For minor victims of human trafficking, the funds will be released after their 18th birthday.

Victims, victim advocates, victim representatives, and attorneys can apply for compensation in several ways:
Victims must apply within seven years of the date of the crime. Minor victims must apply by their 28th birthday.

CalVCB encourages everyone to take some time this month to learn more about how to help human trafficking victims.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Challenging the Normalization of Violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Written by Alejandra Aguilar, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
Gender pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Over the past few years, there has been so much energy across our country on raising awareness about the prevalence of gender-based violence. Survivor-led movements like #WhyIStayed, #MeToo, and Time’s Up have done so much to bring attention to the critical topics we have seen all over our screens—abuse in relationships, sexual violence, and the social inequities that fuel them. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month and year-round, survivors want people to not only listen to their experiences, but also take action in our everyday lives to prevent further violence. Talking about it is not enough. We have so much more work to do!
As many people have experienced, and as many of us have seen throughout our spaces at work, and in our friendships and families, there are very real reasons why a large number of individuals choose to not disclose intimate partner violence or sexual assault: fear of being re-traumatized and ridiculed, having their experiences minimized, being blamed and humiliated… The list goes on. We know the reasons. We talk about them every day. And yet, we cannot stop talking! Now more than ever as more folks are looking for opportunities to engage!

In our Domestic Violence Awareness Month Campaign, Growing the Seeds of Healing and Justice, survivors across California are expressing how they could feel more supported, what changes need to be made in communities to make healing & justice more accessible, and their hopes for the future. Here are some of their powerful responses to our survey questions—which invite us to take action:
Q: How can schools, workplaces religious institutions, etc., create welcoming environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and asexual survivors, and how would this work to prevent abusive tactics?
A: "Say out loud you are here for us. Say out loud that you welcome us. Say out loud that you need to do more training. Say out loud that you do not tolerate discrimination. Maybe others will be inspired by your bravery."
Q: What would you need from your friends, family, and community to feel safer and cared for?
A: “A nonjudgmental response to decision making about how to heal. Take action when I say I am not well. Offer to go for a walk, drive, or just sit in silence so I am reminded that I am not alone.”—Tina Rodriguez
Q: How do we move toward a California free from domestic violence?
A: “Begin at the pre-school level and teach healthy relationships, respect for individual sovereignty, and accountability for behaviors; and keep teaching through high school.”
Q: Answered by Native and immigrant survivors, as well as survivors of color: How do support systems need to be improved to meet your needs?
A: "Strengthen the support system. Legislate that DV victims be waived from deportation if an abuser reports to ICE or the court. Expedite the Violence Against Women Act processing time for victims to be able to find a job to support their family."
To determine how we engage others in the prevention of violence, we must deeply reflect upon guidance from survivors in our actions. But how can we get started? Answering these questions for yourself—on a regular basis—can help.
  • How can I hold myself accountable?
  • How can I share ideas with others about ways in which they can stand up against violence?
  • How do I challenge the norms that perpetuate the violence?  
This is going to take all of us—and each of us can become self-aware of the spaces in which we hold privilege and use it to stand up, speak out, and do something. Use the Oppression and Privilege Self-Assessment Tool that was shared in our blog post Intersectionality of Privilege, Oppression, and Tactics of Abuse, and consider the following questions:
·         As a parent or teacher, do you have access to spaces in which you can engage youth and adults in discussions around respect, equality, consent and what they look like?
·         Do you have spaces around you where you can add media and images that encourage healthy relationship behaviors and bystander intervention skills?
·         Have you emailed or called your elected official, encouraging them to promote laws that foster equality and liberation for marginalized groups?
·         Using language and examples that support survivors and challenge these norms: “They didn’t deserve it. No one does.” “The person who chose to rape caused the rape. Nothing else.” “Only a Yes is a Yes. Anything else is a No.”
How will YOU hold yourself accountable?
How can you INVITE OTHERS to engage in challenging the normalization of violence?
We encourage you to read and share the Piktochart that was created by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Violence. It’s a great way to start the conversation with others. Let me know how it goes by getting in touch with me at I’d love to hear back from you.
If you’re a survivor reading this, this is your movement—and we welcome you to get involved. We would be honored to have you join our coalition as a member. Please also explore the resources below:
·         Trans Lifeline
·         The GLBT Talkline
The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only, and CalVCB makes no representations of any kind regarding completeness or accuracy or security of the links within the blog. All opinions expressed in the blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of CalVCB. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Remembering Those We Lost and Helping Future Victims of Mass Violence

Remembering Those We Lost and Helping Future Victims of Mass Violence

By Anita Ahuja, MA, Manager, Mass Violence Response Team, California Victim Compensation Board

As we approach the 18th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we remember those who lost their lives that day or were injured and how so many lives were forever shattered by terrorism. 

The attacks of that day impacted California directly, as all four of the hijacked planes were scheduled to arrive in our state, three to Los Angeles and one to San Francisco. 

Immediately following the tragedy, there was a lot of confusion which made it very difficult for the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) to obtain a list of victims so we could reach out to survivors and family members to inform them about benefits and resources available to them.  Initially, we relied on airline manifests and outreach including media announcements and press releases. 

The California State Legislature quickly passed emergency legislation to expand benefits for victims, created county tolerance programs in response to hate crimes that were occurring and provided $1 million in assistance to the State of New York for their recovery efforts.

On October 9th, the Governor’s Office held a Day of Remembrance on the West Steps of the Capitol to remember those who died and to honor first responders. 

Five-year old Sonali Beaven sang beautifully during the ceremony, less than a month after losing her father, Alan, on United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Amidst her tears and those of her mother, Kimi, they shared cherished family stories as we spent time learning about their family history and what would help them heal one step at a time. The memories of that day are vivid, as are the feelings we experienced of losing our sense of normalcy and not knowing what to expect.

The federal Office for Victims of Crime provided crisis response grants to CalVCB to host peer support group meetings — a practice that worked well following the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.

The groups met monthly for approximately three years in Northern and Southern California, becoming one of the greatest sources of healing for the family members and survivors.  Since everyone had experienced the same incident, they shared a common bond and were able to easily connect and support each other through severe trauma, depression, substance abuse, the inability to work, suicide and family separations. 

Sadly, since the tragedy of that day 18 years ago, mass violence incidents have grown significantly in frequency and size.  In California, we have witnessed horrific events such as those in San Bernardino, Seal Beach, Cedarville Rancheria, the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, the Chabad House in Poway, the Gilroy Garlic Festival and the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas where approximately 65% of the victims were from California. Too many people have joined the ever-expanding group of mass violence victims around the globe. 

In response to these mass violence events, CalVCB has established a mass violence emergency response plan which includes a field response team trained in trauma-informed crisis response and a detailed list of resources for assisting victims.  Through statewide victim forums, we have been able to learn about the ongoing and unmet needs of victims and survivors. CalVCB has partnered with other government and community agencies to help meet these on-going needs.  The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP) in the federal Office for Victims of Crime has also provided grants to assist with long-term recovery.  This program has made a tremendous difference through the support provided to victims.

More and more service providers are stepping forward to share resources during times of mass violence.  The FBI has expanded its Rapid Deployment Response Team which is activated in less than 24 hours.  The Red Cross helps with setting up Family Assistance Centers and providing for immediate needs such as food and clothing.  Corporations including Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, major airlines and others provide complimentary accommodations and transportation for victims and family members in need. 

It is impossible to make sense of the mass violence that has besieged our communities.  Our hearts are continually broken when we learn about the lives that have been taken.  I am reminded of my first encounter with victims of mass violence shortly after September 11th.  A husband and wife, parents of an adult son who perished on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center, asked me “what sin did we commit that God would punish us this way?”  I responded “you didn’t commit any sin.  I don’t know why this happened, but I know we will do everything we can to help you get through this.” 

And when the next mass violence tragedy occurs, we will do everything we possibly can to assist.  Our program provides assistance to reimburse for medical, mental health, and funeral/burial expenses as well as income and support loss.  We help those with catastrophic injuries with a variety of eligible expenses.

Know that we are ready to help victims heal and recover in the midst of horrific pain. We have learned a great deal about responding to mass violence and are prepared to respond when the time comes.  Our greatest hope is that these tragedies will cease, but until they do, we are here to help.

The California Victim Compensation Board is dedicated to providing financial assistance for many crime-related expenses. Victims who suffer physical injury, threat of physical injury or emotional injury as a direct result of a violent crime may qualify for assistance. To learn more visit:

Friday, August 2, 2019

National Night Out: Law Enforcement and Community Partnerships

National Night Out: Law Enforcement and Community Partnerships

By The Elk Grove Police Department

Since 1984, National Night Out has been an annual community-building campaign promoting police-community partnerships. In most states, National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday in August and consists of block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and much more. The goal of National Night Out is to strengthen relationships between neighbors and law enforcement and provide an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. Law enforcement agencies like the Elk Grove Police Department, understand that stronger relationships with the community help to create safer lives for us all.

Elk Grove Police Department has taken an innovative approach to improving thing in their city. In January 2014, the City of Elk Grove received a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women to fund a full-time advocate position. The city partnered with WEAVE to provide victim services to individuals in Elk Grove. The advocate assists victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Clients can receive crisis counseling, emotional support, long-term or short-term case management, accompaniment, advocacy and connections to other community resources, such as CalVCB.  The advocate provides training to professionals in the community including EGPD officers. They also ride along with officers and are called out to scenes after a domestic violence incident. The advocate wants each client to know there are resources available and they can receive support when they are ready.

Law enforcement agencies play a vital role in connecting victims to services like CalVCB. Law enforcement officials are often there during some of the worst times in a victim’s life and want to make sure that victims can get the help that they need. By referring victims and loved ones to CalVCB, law enforcement officials can help  them access lifesaving services such as relocation, mental health benefits and more.

The California Victim Compensation Board is dedicated to providing financial assistance for many crime-related expenses. Victims who suffer physical injury, threat of physical injury or emotional injury as a direct result of a violent crime may qualify for assistance. To learn more visit:

Friday, June 7, 2019

Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse in California

Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse in California 

By John Hartmire, Associate Government Program Analyst, California Department of Social Services, Adult Protective Services 

Adult Protective Services (APS) is present in every one of California’s 58 counties, and it is busier than ever these days. More of California’s elderly and dependent adults were abused last year than ever before, and at a cost of more than $165 million. APS investigated nearly 191,000 reports of abuse in fiscal year 2017-2018, up from the 184,000 reports received the previous year, and up 49% from the 128,124 reports received in 2011-12. Of those reports,167,081 were investigated, and 76,056 were confirmed as recognized instances of abuse. 

The upsurge in instances of abuse continues a trend partly attributed to the well-documented growth in the nation’s senior population, as well as an increasing awareness of what the abuse of elderly and dependent adults looks like and how it penetrates the fabric of family and community. It is not as simple as the fact that America’s Baby Boomers are retiring to the tune of about 10,000 every day, but also that the avenues of reporting elderly and dependent adult abuse have become more accessible. Every county has a 24-hour toll-free reporting hotline, there is improved understanding and working partnership between agencies, and the training for mandated reporters continues to expand and improve. The scope of the potential problem can be found in demographics: in 2011, for example, seniors comprised 12% of California’s total population, by 2016 14%, and by 2050 that number is estimated to swell to 20%. By 2030, there will be 36 seniors living in California for every 100 working Californians. The number of potential victims increase annually. 

APS is obligated by law to confidentially investigate every allegation and report received, and, when appropriate, offer to any elderly or disabled adult found to be a victim of abuse a case plan that seeks to help them recover. The plans are voluntary, and the cases run the gamut, with some resolved as easily as providing a hot meal or bag of groceries until a lost wallet can be replaced, while others are vastly more complicated, involving family members, while still others will involve outside agencies chasing down bank accounts and elaborately fraudulent property transactions. Financial abuse may be the most common form of abuse APS investigates, it is certainly not the only one. 

More than half of the reports of abuse APS investigated and confirmed last year were cases of self-neglect—42,813 to be precise. There were over 6,100 confirmed allegations of physical abuse, and over 9,600 confirmed allegations of psychological and emotional abuse. Across the board, in all categories, the numbers have increased annually. 

The California Victim Compensation Board is dedicated to providing financial assistance for many crime-related expenses. Victims who suffer physical injury, threat of physical injury or emotional injury as a direct result of a violent crime may qualify for assistance. To learn more visit: