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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

Special Populations

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OVC is committed to expanding its efforts to address the historical, institutional, geographic, cultural, and other barriers that often prevent victims from receiving appropriate assistance. Services for some victims may be unavailable, inadequate, or difficult to access, particularly for victims with disabilities, older victims, boys and young men of color, homeless youth and adults, and victims in group housing such as nursing homes. Most of these populations experience higher crime rates than the overall U.S. population, making their need for services imperative. In FYs 2011 and 2012, OVC supported innovative projects to help professionals in the victim services field improve their response to underserved victims nationwide.

Victims With Disabilities

Providing appropriate services to crime victims with disabilities presents a two-fold challenge to service providers. First, persons with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than those without disabilities, depending on age, crime, and gender.13 Second, they face a variety of physical and cognitive barriers to accessing services. In FYs 2011 and 2012, OVC funded evidence-based, victim-centered training products, practical resources, and a national conference, all to equip multidisciplinary service professionals with the knowledge and tools to effectively serve victims with disabilities.

  • OVC supported the National Center for Victims of Crime and its partners in presenting the second National Training Conference on Responding to Crime Victims with Disabilities, held in December 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The 462 participants included 54 multidisciplinary community teams and 28 individuals who received scholarship support. Funding also included the development of the online Resource Directory for Service Providers, designed to be updated periodically to stay current.
  • In 2012, OVC released an online publication, Multidisciplinary Response to Crime Victims With Disabilities, which incorporates two grantee-developed guides for replicating innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to serving victims with disabilities at the state and local levels. The guides discuss how adult protective services, human services agencies, law enforcement, advocates, and others can work together to ensure equal and effective access to the criminal justice system for victims with disabilities.
  • OVC TTAC released a new training resource, Supporting Crime Victims With Disabilities, in 2012. Built on a collaborative model, the 3-day online training for service providers and related professionals is available in English and Spanish, through OVC TTAC's Training by Request option or by downloading it for local presenters' use.

Young Male Victims of Color

Young men of color are at higher risk of violent victimization than their white male contemporaries, with African Americans continuously experiencing the highest rate of serious violent crime—25 incidents per 1,000 youth—from 2002 through 2010. The fact that less than half of the violent crime perpetrated against youth is reported to police—indicating they are unlikely to receive treatment—only heightens concern for the well-being of these victims.14

Recognizing that few traditional victim service organizations have the resources and expertise to provide comprehensive, accessible services to this high-risk population, OVC is supporting two innovative demonstration programs to identify issues, promising practices, and strategies for promoting equal access to services that meet these victims' specific needs. In 2012, OVC funded the 15-member National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP) at Drexel University to support the implementation of high-quality, trauma-informed care from hospital bedside through discharge. Currently, victims are treated in hospital emergency rooms for their physical injuries, but not for the psychological trauma that contributes to recurring violence. NNHVIP is developing and implementing trauma-informed practices to be used by frontline providers through systematic training, technical assistance, pilot testing, and evaluation to ensure that all professionals who work with young male victims of color are well equipped to respond to their unique needs.

In 2012, OVC also funded a demonstration project with Save Our Streets (SOS) Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York, an established "violence interrupter" program aimed at breaking the cycle of violence—particularly shootings and homicides—among young men of color. OVC's support will enable SOS to incorporate a victim service infrastructure into its case management to help ensure that these young men and their families have access to culturally appropriate services and support following victimization. SOS also will develop promising practices and protocols for partner agencies, provide relevant training for service providers, and create materials promoting best practices for programs that want to expand their services for young men of color.

Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation

Older victims of violent crime, neglect, and exploitation often go unnoticed in our communities, but their numbers are rapidly growing. Elder abuse, in particular, may be difficult to detect as the perpetrator is often a family member or caretaker upon whom the victim is dependent for basic necessities. Victims may want the abuse to end, but if reporting the crime means losing their independence or turning in a loved one, they face a difficult choice.

OVC supports training, outreach, and legal assistance programs to assist older victims, particularly victims of domestic abuse and financial exploitation. In 2009, OVC produced In Their Own Words: Domestic Abuse in Later Life, a multimedia training package which has been among the top five publications in demand almost every month since its release. In 2010, OVC produced Responding to Elder Abuse, a 3-DVD set that highlights issues that judges and court personnel, law enforcement, and community corrections professionals need to consider when working with older victims.

Financial exploitation is recognized as a growing threat to older Americans' hard-earned savings, the loss of which can have dire repercussions. At a White House event commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in June 2012, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the upcoming availability of formal training for legal aid attorneys to prepare them to assist older victims of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Subsequently, the Department's Civil Division provided OVC with $300,000 to develop an online curriculum, which the Legal Services Corporation will disseminate to all legal aid offices in the country. Through the Department's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, some attorneys are already assisting victims of mortgage fraud.

Survivors of Homicide Victims

The FBI reports that 12,664 murders occurred in the United States in 2011.15 For each life cut short, there are family members who need skilled, intensive support to cope with this traumatic, intensely personal loss. Much of the assistance that survivors typically receive, such as help filling out compensation claims, is important but falls short of the complex array of services urgently needed by grieving family members. Providing such assistance is even more challenging in rural and ethnic areas, where vital support services are especially scarce.

OVC's Intensive Case Management for Family Members of Homicide Victims initiative, which supports three model programs in rural and urban settings, addresses the current gap between the limited, specific services that families generally receive and the need for a well-coordinated, multifaceted, institutionalized response built on a comprehensive service strategy. Each model provides direct services, identifies promising practices, evaluates their effectiveness, and develops training and technical assistance resources to help other jurisdictions expand their services to survivors of homicide victims.

  • Cleveland, Ohio's collaborative homicide response initiative, the Violent Loss Response Team (VLRT), combines the resources of mental health providers, law enforcement, victim witness services, and grief counselors to support families immediately after a homicide, followed by longer term assistance. Available 24/7, VLRT has assisted more than 1,200 survivors to date.
  • In the South Carolina Lowcountry, the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center (NCVC) is a rural site for intensive case management. NCVC partners with 39 local agencies to provide comprehensive services using an outreach delivery model in the community and via telemedicine. NCVC in particular reaches out to ethnic minorities and other rural survivors who would not otherwise receive trauma-informed services.
  • Advocates in New Hampshire's State Office of Victim/Witness Assistance (OVWA) are on call 24/7 to assist survivors of homicide statewide. OVWA's innovations include the establishment of a network of trauma-informed mental health providers to build service capacity in rural areas and the development of a 4-day core curriculum to enhance providers' understanding of the impact of homicide and their ability to work more effectively with survivors, helping them to reestablish a sense of safety, predictability, and control in their lives.

13 Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Criminal Victimization in the United States 2011: Statistical Tables," Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011.

14 N. White and J. Lauretsen, Violent Crime Against Youth, 1994–2010, Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012.

15 Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Uniform Crime Reports," Washington, DC, 2011.