Averett University Receives Federal Grant for Domestic and Sexual Violence Critical Services Coordination in the Region

Posted on April 9th, 2019 by Cassie Jones

Averett University today announced it is the recipient of a $500,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. In partnership with Sovah Health, HAVEN of the Dan River Region, Inc. and the City of Danville Police Department, Averett will lead a community wide initiative to bring together key stakeholders to collaborate on a coordinated response to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in the region.

“This project team is the first of its kind for the region, and we are eager to contribute to this critical and meaningful work,” said Averett University President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “This is an extremely qualified and motivated group of community partners. We currently collaborate with all of them in various ways, and we look to deepen our partnerships under a shared belief in equity and quality of services for some of our most vulnerable community members.”

The project team will work to establish agreed protocols, processes, service delivery, coordination and prevention education that will increase support for survivors of sexual assault in the City of Danville, Va.; in Pittsylvania County, Va.; and in Caswell County, N.C. Key objectives of the initiative include:
1.) Establishing a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) presence at area hospitals;
2.) Developing a pool of trained domestic violence/sexual assault advocates to enhance sexual assault service delivery;
3.) Training all responders in evidence-based Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) techniques;
4.) Developing the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) protocol; and
5.) Establishing a Coordinated Community Education and Prevention (CCEP) “See it, Say it” awareness campaign on domestic and sexual violence.

This first objective is two-fold. Averett will offer the SANE-Adult (SANE-A) and SANE-Pediatric (SANE-P) training courses, including the clinical workshops, at Averett’s Riverview Campus, ensuring a sustainable pipeline of SANE-trained nurses for area hospitals. Then, Sovah Health will recruit SANE-trained nurses for their Danville hospital, who will be trained through Averett to conduct a complete physical assessment of the patient that includes a medical/forensic history and a physical evidence recovery kit (PERK).

“Sovah Health is honored to partner with Averett and other local agencies on this important endeavor,” said Sovah Health President and Sovah Health-Danville CEO R. Alan Larson. “Ensuring that our team is well versed and trained on these important protocols will provide a much needed benefit and service to our community, and we are eager to get started.”

Secondly, with HAVEN as the lead,  the team will work to develop a stakeholder network made up of representatives from across the region with the responsibility and authority to respond to and investigate cases. This phase engages other area partners, like representatives from sheriff’s offices, social services, commonwealth’s attorneys’ offices and non-profits, among others. HAVEN will create two new positions – a network coordinator, who will oversee a pool of volunteer advocates to help provide survivors with support and continuity of care, and a survivor advocate.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our entire community,” said HAVEN of the Dan River Region Executive Director Lisa Caviness. “Providing a trauma-informed approach to the engagement with, and care of victims of violence, is a scientifically proven method that lends itself to increasing survivor participation and aids in their recovery. Our agency is grateful to be a part of this venture in which dedicated and seasoned professionals throughout our county can enhance collaborative efforts to ensure the highest level of service is provided in a consistent manner. ”

Next, expert trainers will be engaged by the City of Danville Police Department to train all network stakeholders and local law enforcement personnel in FETI techniques. This method has been shown to drastically reduce survivor recantations, increase survivor cooperation and participation, and significantly improve chances for successful investigations and prosecutions.

Also, Danville Police will help coordinate inter-agency training in SART response protocols – a set of agreed upon procedures for various agencies to follow in responding to domestic or sexual violence in a community. This joint approach will allow stakeholders to outline effective responses, tailored to this rural community, to meet survivors’ needs and hold offenders accountable.

“The Danville Police Department continues to be committed to collaborating with our community partners to provide the best services possible to the Danville area in response to domestic and sexual violence in our community,” said City of Danville Police Department Lt. Col. Dean Hairston. “This grant opportunity advances that commitment and enables the department to more effectively apply those services.”

Finally, the project team will work collectively on a CCEP campaign to develop services, plan events and disseminate tangible information around prevention strategies and education needed to boost community awareness and decrease occurrences of domestic and sexual violence.

“The team will combine skills and work together to create an effective framework for coordinated responses to violence against women. With Averett’s specialized expertise in health sciences, nursing and criminal justice education, we are uniquely poised to facilitate this network and to implement the educational components,” Franks said, “and we are excited about the prospects.”

Averett was one of 47 grant recipients from across the country to receive this grant funding from the Office on Violence Against Women this year, and is one of 22 first-time recipients.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2018-WR-AX-0028 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.


About Averett University
Since 1859, Averett University has grown and developed into a dynamic institution that serves students of all ages, offering more than 30 undergraduate majors, minors and special programs, along with three graduate programs with a number of concentrations. Dedicated to preparing students to serve and lead as catalysts for positive change, the University’s historic main campus is embedded in the heart of Southern Virginia with regional campuses throughout Virginia and online. Averett enrolls a diverse student body, and boasts an alumni network that spans the globe. Visit Averett.edu for more info.

About Sovah Health
Sovah Health is a regional healthcare delivery system, serving the south central Virginia and north central North Carolina region. It is comprised of two hospital campuses, one in Danville (formerly known as Danville Regional Medical Center) and the other in Martinsville (formerly known as Memorial Hospital of Martinsville & Henry County). Sovah Health – Danville is the leading medical center in the Dan River Region of Virginia and North Carolina employing approximately 1300 people and with 175 physicians are on the medical staff. Sovah Health – Martinsville has been at the heart of the Martinsville and Henry County community and the surrounding area providing exceptional healthcare and services to the region since 1970. Sovah Health -Martinsville has more than 120 physicians on the medical staff and employs more than 850 people. For more information, please visit www.SovahHealth.com.

About HAVEN of the Dan River Region, Inc.
HAVEN of the Dan River Region is a 501-C-3 non-profit organization set up for the purpose of raising awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault, providing services to meet the needs of victims, and providing a safe shelter for victims and their children. The agency provides services to victims regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, national origin, age, citizenship status, gender identity or expression, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status. HAVEN serves the Danville, Virginia and Pittsylvania County area.

About the City of Danville Police Department
The mission of the Danville Police Department is to provide quality service to the community through a process of continuous improvement. We will maintain a safe environment for all by protecting life, liberty and property through partnerships with citizens and businesses.