In 1983, Virginia was selected by the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) to be one of twelve states to initiate a statewide network to assist victim/witness programs. This 501c3 non-profit organization has been around for 35 years and has grown from a network of 10 to 200 allied criminal justice professionals. Services are made possible from funding from grants through the Victims of Crime Act funding, member dues and registrations from its annual training conference.
As a 501c3 non-profit organization, we have been providing statewide assistance to victim witness programs for 35 years. We have grown from a network of 10 to more than 200 allied agency partners. 2018 is the start of a new chapter for our organization as we will now have full time staff members and an office located in Henrico County. Our goal is to fill the current gap in services for victims of other crimes against persons, in particular families of murdered victims, primary and secondary victims of armed robbery, and assault or malicious wounding, and mass casualty victims.
Mission: The Virginia Victim Assistance Network (VVAN) strives to be a voice for crime victims and those who serve them in Virginia by:
- Diagnosing, assessing, and advocating for the needs of victims and their families.
- Promoting policies and legislation to protect the rights of the victims of human tragedy.
- Producing professional development and encouraging collaboration to ensure the continued growth of our members.
- Fostering accountability through the criminal justice system.
VVAN envisions a society free of violence that empowers individuals and promotes respect for the dignity of all people.
Inherent in VVAN’s core values and principles is a commitment to:
- a victim-centered philosophy and practices that are driven by the needs, strengths and voices of victims;
- promoting positive, respectful, and professional relationships, partnerships and collaborations;
- supporting trust, shared commitment and collective action, resulting in high quality outcomes for victims
The Community Crisis Response Team (CRT) empowers local communities to support crime victims in their recovery from traumatic incidents by assessing the impact of the event on the community; developing an intervention plan; and providing crisis intervention by trained volunteer teams.
When will the Team Respond?
Upon request through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, the CRT provides trained teams of professionals to serve any community within the Commonwealth of Virginia subject to a mass casualty or high-profile criminal victimization.
Who are the responders?
Crisis Response Team members have a minimum of 24 hours of training on the National Organization for Victim Assistance delivery model. Most are seasoned victim service professionals with experience with high-profile victimization.
As a form of modern day slavery, human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that strips the freedom of individuals all around the world. Force, fraud, and coercion can be used to lure victims into sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. These forms of trafficking all revolve around exploitation of human beings. It is often the case that victims face many challenges to accessing help as traffickers may confiscate personal documents, deny access to money or friend and family contacts, and manipulate to ensure they will not lose control over the victim. VVAN works to provide training, support, resources, and referrals to victims of human trafficking and service providers advocating for these individuals.
Homicide Support Group Project
When a loved one is murdered, family and friends often experience symptoms of trauma along with the grieving process. Homicide is so sudden, unanticipated and violent that it often shakes the survivors’ sense of safety, control and trust in the world around them. Intense emotional reactions are often further complicated by the involvement of the criminal justice system and sometimes the news media.
The Homicide Support Group Project seek to bring friends and family of murdered victims together in regional support groups. Network staff help to coordinate trained mental health facilitators for the groups and educate local victim service agencies, law enforcement, medical and mental health providers to refer victims to these valuable services
Victim Assist Helpline
The Victim Assist Helpline is a place to help crime victims understand their rights and options, find information and connect with resources, access referrals and craft next steps to regain control over their lives. In addition to staff who answer calls during the day, the Helpline will expand outreach through other forms of technology such as online chat, text, blog and social media platforms.