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Forensic Compliance Resources

Note:  The information on this website is designed to:  (a) communicate the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (as reauthorized in 2005 and 2013), and (b) offer recommended practices for implementation.  The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.  It is critically important that readers consult state laws and regulations, as well as local policies and protocols, because they may have additional requirements beyond those included in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013.  For more information specific to your state or territory, contact the STOP Grant Administrator or coalition of advocacy organizations providing services for sexual assault victims.  A listing is available from the website for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. 
Article in Journal of Forensic Nursing

The June 2011 issue of the Journal of Forensic Nursing (JFN) features an article by Kim Lonsway and Joanne Archambault, addressing the issues of VAWA forensic compliance. This article was written in response to a previous one in the same journal by author Bonnie Price. In it, Price described how complex and challenging the issues of forensic compliance are for communities and emphasized the critical role that forensic nurses and multidisciplinary collaboration play in achieving this goal. Given the significance of this topic, we sought to clarify a few issues in our reply. We also explored additional implications for the criminal justice and community response system, and highlighted the TA resources that are available, including those offered by EVAWI.

If you do not personally subscribe to JFN, you can get a copy of the article from a library or colleague who does. Otherwise, you can purchase a copy of the article for $35, by visiting the website: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jfn.2011.7.issue-2/issuetoc. You will need to register with the publisher’s online store (John Wiley & Sons), before ordering a copy of the article.

Article in Police Chief Magazine

The September 2010 issue of Police Chief magazine features an article by Kim Lonsway and Joanne Archambault, addressing the issues of VAWA 2005 forensic compliance. In this article, we explain the provisions of VAWA 2005 that pertain to medical forensic exams for sexual assault victims, and outline some of the challenges seeking to implement compliant protocols. By depicting the realities that face sexual assault victims, we seek to help law enforcement executives understand why so many victims decide they are unable to report the crime and participate in the police investigation. Yet we also highlight the consequences of non-reporting, which often denies victims access to community services and gives perpetrators a free pass to continue offending with impunity.

To access the article, please visit the website for Police Chief magazine, which is published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Article in Sexual Assault Report on VAWA 2005 Provisions

This article summarizes the primary provisions of VAWA 2005 regarding forensic examinations -- those addressing access and payment, especially for victims who do not participate in a law enforcement investigation. It also clarifies how the issues interact with questions of medical mandated reporting and law enforcement authorization of forensic examinations. However, readers must keep in mind that the article was originally written in 2006, and does not include VAWA 2013 provisions. It was written by Dr. Kim Lonsway and Joanne Archambault of EVAW International, and the description of VAWA 2005 provisions was reviewed by Marnie Shiels, Attorney Advisor for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The article was published in Sexual Assault Report, 2007, Volume 10, Number 5, pp. 65, 74-77 by the Civic Research Institute.

Advocates and Law Enforcement: Oil and Water?

This article explores the tension that is sometimes experienced between law enforcement and victim advocates in the community. It offers a detailed description of the advocate’s role during the criminal justice process, with particular focus on their involvement during forensic exams or interviews. Next, the article addresses the fact that many law enforcement officers, forensic examiners, and other community professionals are reluctant to involve advocates in the process, so we address some of the common factors underlying this reluctance and offer strategies to resolve them.

The article was written by Dr. Kim Lonsway and Joanne Archambault of EVAW International; it is an excerpt from the training module on Effective Victim Advocacy within the Criminal Justice System that is available in the OnLine Training Institute (OLTI). The article originally appeared in the electronic newsletter for Sexual Assault Training & Investigations (SATI), Inc. It was then subsequently published in Sexual Assault Report, Vol. 11, No. 6, pp. 81-82, 86-95 by the Civic Research Institute.

VAWA 2005 and the Implications for Community Response to Sexual Assault

This article in Sexual Assault Report describes the provisions in VAWA 2005 and how they will impact the way local communities respond to sexual assault. Authors Kim Lonsway and Joanne Archambault review the provisions that specify that states and territories may not require a victim of sexual assault to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to be provided with a forensic medical exam, reimbursed for charges incurred on account of such an exam, or both.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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