This report provides research results about Houston's victim notification process. In Houston, victim notification involves reestablishing contact with victims whose cases are reopened for investigation as a result of a match in the law enforcement database Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), from
victims’ recently tested sexual assault kits (SAKs).This action research assesses the implementation of the Complainant Notification and Hotline Protocols
by interviewing a small number of victims about their experience with notification by Houston Police Department investigators and the justice advocate, an advocate for victims.
The data analysis revealed multiple themes from victims’ notification experience, including:
Victims appreciated having more choice/control.
The time lapse had an important effect on their experience of moving on from the assault.
Several victims were trying to make meaning of their experience.
Deciding about whether to participate in their case going forward created a moral dilemma for some victims.
Victims faced many barriers in their current lives.
The notification process created both danger and opportunity for victims.
The uncertainty about the case outcome weighed heavily upon victims.
This report includes research on creating victim notification protocols. Six major themes emerged from survey respondents regarding the process of developing and implementing the Protocols. They include: 1)Strategic planning, 2) Organizational support, 3) Active partnerships, 4) Resources, 5) Outreach, and 6)Victim-centered approach. Of the six themes, researchers identified the victim-centered approach as significant to the process of developing and implementing victim notification protocols.
This report describes research on victim and professional perspectives on the delivery of victim notification procedures, implementation of new victim notification processes, victim engagement within the criminal justice system, and recommendations for improvements.
Victims and professionals made five recommendations.
Law enforcement should not assume that a victim does or does not want to be notified.
All victims should be given the opportunity to be notified, and the decision for notification should be a choice provided to all victims instead of something imposed on them by someone else.
Mechanisms for notification should be flexible and thoughtful and incorporate choices for victims.
Victims should have a choice in whether their case moves forward based on DNA testing.
Resources and support are imperative to the notification process.
Additional reports from this research project can be found at: www.houstonsakresearch.org.
The 2014 Spring & Summer edition of The Resource features a cover story on campus sexual assault written by the Clery Center For Security On Campus. The article provides details on recent amendments to the Jeanne Cleary Act and how policy can be used to help protect the well-being of students. In the same vein, The University of Oregon has students talking about consent with its SexPositive cellphone app, which has been downloaded more than 10,000 times.
Other topics covered in this issue include the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, how to protect victims’ privacy when electronic evidence is introduced, and a reflection on three years of healthy sexuality as the theme of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Does taking a sabbatical sound like a good idea? Read about one executive director’s three-month getaway. Looking for a creative way to fundraise? Check out a vanity license plate campaign from Virginia that has been raising money to prevent sexual and domestic violence.
Learn about sexual assault prevention efforts in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire. See snapshots from Love146’s Sweet Relief Benefit Bakeoff, an event that combined treats and information about fighting human trafficking on Valentine’s Day.
The Existe Ayuda Toolkit provides a variety of resources and information to help service providers in working with spanish-speaking populations. This project aims to increase cultural competence and accessibility of services. The glossaries, presentations, and tools available on this site should assist both spanish-speaking and non-spanish-speaking advocates to provide information, services, and referrals to Latin@s impacted by sexual violence.
Developments in the field in regards to different reporting options for sexual assault survivors and changing social expectations have made law enforcement agencies reconsider and refine their processes for working with victims of sexual violence. This article explores the major changes in policies and procedures. Options for Reporting Sexual Violence: Developments over the Past Decade
This site is supported by Grant/ Cooperative Agreement No. 1UF2CE002359-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.