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Message from Director Hart Commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Every October, the Nation commemorates Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Jessica E. Hart, Director, Office for Victims of Crime, discusses the Office for Victims of Crime’s commitment to supporting organizations throughout the Nation that support victims of domestic violence.

JESSICA E. HART: Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can take the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and emotional abuse, including, threats, instilling fear, and isolating the victim.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and the perpetrators are not always who you think they are.

This month, we join President Trump in his National Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation, where he called upon us to marshal every tool at our disposal to continue the national, sustained, and coordinated campaign against domestic violence and its root causes.

This is truer now than ever before. The pandemic has caused economic devastation and has isolated many people from family, friends, and support systems. Tragically, during this time, domestic violence has increased significantly and become a crisis of its own within the pandemic. 

As the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, I have continued to monitor these threats to the safety and well-being of victims and I have reached out to the field to identify innovative solutions to serving victims of domestic violence during the pandemic.

Domestic violence programs around the country are exploring new and creative ways to reach out to victims and their families. They are partnering with hotels to provide safe housing; creating online safety planning through chat rooms that never existed before; offering online forensic exams; and spending time online supporting children who have witnessed violence.

To further these efforts, the Office for Victims of Crime has awarded $1.5 million dollars to the National Domestic Violence Hotline to expand their digital services and technology-based tools to assist victims, including tracking the availability of shelter beds online.

Technology-based resources are critical for victims who have had to increasingly rely on digital services during the pandemic.

In 2019, we invested nearly $2 million dollars to the National Network to End Domestic Violence to enhance services to victims of domestic violence, including the recently released DocuSAFE app. This new OVC-funded app allows survivors to log individual incidents of abuse, like photos, screenshots, videos, through the app to use as documentation and evidence collection.

The Office for Victims of Crime is here to help survivors access the safety and justice they deserve.

Please join me in commemorating National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and visit ovc.ojp.gov for more information. Thank you.

Date Created: October 15, 2020