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Justice for Victims. Justice for All.
Office for Victims of Crime
2013 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2011-2012 'Transforming Today's Vision into Tomorrow's Reality'
Report to the Nation Home  |  Message From the Director  |  Exhibits

Public Awareness

Photo of may lit candles

Increasing the public's awareness of the rights of crime victims and reaching out to victims themselves to ensure that they have access to skilled, compassionate services is a critical part of OVC's mission. In FYs 2011 and 2012, OVC continued to promote public awareness and outreach through its annual sponsorship of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) at the national and local levels, as well as its support of special observances such as the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. OVC also participates in outreach intended to raise awareness of crimes such as domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, and dating violence, including special features on OVC's Web site.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

Prelude Event in Washington, D.C., Marks Start of Annual Campaign

Every year, during a designated week in April, communities throughout the Nation hold public rallies, candlelight vigils, and a wide variety of awareness and commemorative activities on behalf of victims' rights, needs, and services. As a prelude to these events, OVC hosts the National Crime Victims' Service Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., at which the Attorney General presents awards to visionary individuals and organizations for their inspiring work to assist crime victims. The 2011 and 2012 ceremonies, speakers, and award winners may be seen online at the OVC Gallery.

OVC Provides Tools To Extend Outreach

In FYs 2011 and 2012, OVC funded the National Center for Victims of Crime to develop an annual Resource Guide to help communities promote awareness of crime victims' needs and services and coordinate local events tailored to their needs. The guides included theme videos, online ads, tips for working with the media, victim statistics, and a wealth of other resources. OVC disseminated some 10,000 print versions of the guides in 2011 and 2012; and the online guides, available in English and Spanish, are being accessed by more users every year, with  296,552 site visits in 2011, and 359,285 site visits in 2012 (as of December 7, 2012).

OVC's NCVRW Community Awareness Project Supports Local Events

To further encourage communities to participate in NCVRW, OVC funds the Community Awareness Project (CAP) initiative annually, providing grassroots organizations with up to $5,000 for promotional events and activities. Since 2004, OVC has designated the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators to select communities through a competitive grant process to implement CAPs. In FYs 2011 and 2012, more than 100 agencies in virtually every state received support for innovative projects, including the following:

  • In Canton, Georgia, the local NCVRW task force joined with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Families of Cherokee United in Service to hold a multimedia campaign, launched on the courthouse steps, to raise awareness of the impact of impaired driving, child abuse, stalking, and domestic violence. Activities ranged from a school poster contest to the dedication of a community garden and a faith-based summit on responding to victims where they worship.
  • In Georgetown, Texas, the county attorney's office held two public events, inducting eight victim service providers into the Crime Victim Advocate Hall of Fame and hosting a community awareness evening for the public to meet local officials and receive informational materials.
  • In Flushing, New York, the Korean American Family Service Center reached out to the community through 15 Korean restaurants that distributed more than 100,000 English/Korean language placemats with information on victims' rights and services.

OVC–U.S. Postal Service Collaborate To Publicize NCVRW

OVC continued its successful collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service to promote NCVRW in 2011 and 2012, with the Postal Service displaying campaign posters and counter displays in more than 16,000 post offices nationwide, potentially reaching 8 million customers each week. In 2012, the displays provided 1.7 million take-away cards listing toll free numbers of national victim-serving organizations to encourage those in need of help to reach out, with positive results. The National Organization for Victim Assistance, for example, received more than double the number of calls to its helpline in the month following NCVRW.

OVC Web Forums: Topical Education Supports National Campaigns

OVC's Web Forum is a steadily expanding online community where service professionals can exchange information and benefit from guest hosts who are nationally recognized experts in victim-related fields. Forums are held twice a month and frequently reinforce national campaigns and other observances by focusing on related topics at an opportune time. With almost 248,000 visitors in 2012—an 18 percent increase from 2011—the popular series helps providers build knowledge and skills, at no cost, simply by accessing OVC's Web site. In FYs 2011 and 2012, sessions held in conjunction with special observances included the following:

  • Using Therapy Dogs to Respond to Child Victims, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, April 2011.
  • Intersections Between Human Trafficking and Other Vulnerable Populations, National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, January 2012.
  • Serving Sexual Assault Victims in Rural Communities, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 2012.
  • Understanding Violence Against Transgender Individuals, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month, June 2012.
  • Responding to Latina/o Victims of Crime, National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 2012. The hosts received and responded to questions in Spanish as well as English—a first for the Web Forum.
  • Understanding Firearms Laws to Assist Domestic Violence Victims, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October 2011.

Raising Awareness in Underserved Communities

OVC supports special projects to raise awareness of underserved crime victims' needs in communities throughout the Nation. These projects typically address a variety of issues, such as language barriers to services and geographic, social, and cultural isolation, and are intended to enhance support for underserved victims, from individuals with disabilities to newly arrived immigrants. In 2010, OVC awarded funding for ten 1- to 2-year projects to support the Attorney General's Defending Childhood Initiative. Some of this successful outreach is described in Child and Youth Victimization and Tribal Communities; all are summarized in the OVC e-publication Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma.