In FYs 2013 and 2014, OVC expanded its efforts to provide information about victim services programming to a wide variety of groups—victim service organizations; allied professionals; and federal, tribal, state, and local agencies—as well as the victims and the public. In addition to OVC’s annual sponsorship of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) at the national and local levels, OVC continued to use innovative tools to raise awareness about victims’ rights and related projects. In recognition of the widespread use of mobile devices and social media channels, OVC continues to use developments in technology to interact frequently with stakeholders and regularly disseminate important information about victim services.
NCVRW Resources and Events
Each April during NCVRW, communities throughout the United States conduct public rallies, candlelight vigils, and various events to commemorate and promote awareness of the rights, needs, and services of victims of crime. Through a cooperative agreement with the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), OVC releases a comprehensive resource guide, available online in English and Spanish, that includes a variety of promotional materials to heighten public awareness of crime victims’ issues. During NCVRW, OVC hosts the National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., at which the Attorney General honors dedicated individuals and organizations for their visionary work to help victims of crime. Visit the OVC Gallery to view the ceremony and learn more about the speakers and award winners in 2013 and 2014.
NCVRW Community Awareness Projects
To support community participation nationwide in NCVRW, OVC’s Community Awareness Project (CAP) initiative funds grassroots organizations with up to $5,000 for promotional activities. Since 2004, through funding from OVC, the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators selects communities, through competitive grant solicitations, to implement CAPs. In FYs 2013 and 2014, more than 100 organizations, representing nearly every state, received support for innovative projects, including the following:
- In Noblesville, Indiana, Prevail, Inc.—an organization that provides education and support services to victims of crime—partnered with local agencies to host a Criminal Justice “Odyssey” Open House for 150 members of the community. This guided tour through the criminal justice system featured presentations from law enforcement officers, victim service providers, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, prosecutors, and judges. Prevail, Inc., promoted the event through newspaper advertisements, newsletters, fliers, and posters.
- In the City of Farmington, New Mexico, the Farmington Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program conducted a countywide media campaign using three digital billboards and posters, in English and Spanish, to promote NCVRW and local victim services. The Program distributed 50 NCVRW-themed posters in popular areas and community centers, and the billboard displays ran 8,000 times during the week.
- In Washington, D.C., the Network for Victim Recovery of the District of Columbia (NVRDC) conducted four Twitter town halls aimed at youth and other populations unlikely to attend an in-person event. Conducted on Wednesdays in April, the town halls focused on elder abuse, homicide, gender-based violence, and hate crimes. NVRDC also held four Metro Action Days to reach populations in high-crime areas who have less access to the Internet as well as a Community “Know Your Rights” Safety Expo featuring ways of receiving help after being victimized.
Human Trafficking Public Service Announcement
"I’m so much more than what happened to me."— From Faces of Human Trafficking PSAOn January 14, 2014, OVC, along with other DOJ components and partner federal agencies, held a Human Trafficking Survivor Forum and Listening Session to gain insights from a diverse group of 20 victims of human trafficking. In response to public feedback regarding the draft Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013–2017 —indicating that the Federal Government needs to consult with survivors when designing and implementing human trafficking outreach, services, and programs—OVC solicited statements of interest from human trafficking survivors to convene a diverse group with regard to geography, gender, and experiences. The participants shared their perspectives on ways for federal agencies to engage survivor groups and incorporate their insights into improving federal anti-trafficking efforts.
As part of the Survivor Forum and Listening Session, OVC released a 1-minute Faces of Human Trafficking PSA in 2014 to raise public awareness of this heinous crime. Featuring eight diverse survivors of human trafficking, including men and women of multiple ethnicities, the PSA demonstrates how anyone can be a victim of human trafficking and that victims come from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. The PSA can be viewed on OVC’s Web site and YouTube page, where it is available with Hindi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Thai subtitles.
OVC Web Site and Web Forums
A significant proportion of visitors to the OVC Web site are crime victims and victim service providers. The site provides an Online Directory of Crime Victim Services to help visitors locate nonemergency crime victim services, provided by nonprofit programs and public agencies, as well as other maps and online tools designed to connect victims, service providers, and allied professionals with state and local resources. Additionally, the site provides robust information about OVC programs and projects, grant opportunities, and victims’ rights and also connects visitors to OVC publications, videos, and related products. The OVC Web Forum serves as an established online community—where victim service professionals can exchange information and interact with guest hosts who are nationally recognized experts in a wide variety of fields. Forums are held monthly and often underscore national awareness months, with a focus on relevant topics. Moreover, 35 percent of the visits to OVC’s Web site come from mobile devices.
OVC’s Social Media Presence
Today’s communication technologies offer new methods for accessing information nearly instantaneously and from countless locations. OVC continues to make concerted efforts to use technology to provide information about victim services. In January 2013, OVC launched its social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Victims, victim service providers, and allied professionals use these sites daily to find information about victim services and how and where to access them. With the touch of a screen or flick of a finger, visitors to OVC’s Facebook and Twitter pages can access the most current information about OVC—from the launch of new products promoting victims’ rights to victim-related news to programs conducted by allied partners. More users are engaging with OVC each month: OVC’s Facebook page has received more than 3,000 ‘Likes’; its Twitter account has more than 1,000 followers; and during an average month, OVC’s YouTube channel receives between 5,500 and 7,000 video views.
OVC worked with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to support National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week in January 2014 to address the needs of victims of identity theft. Tax identity theft accounted for more than 43 percent of the FTC’s identity theft complaints in 2012, nearly doubling from roughly 24 percent in 2011. OVC conducted outreach through Facebook and Twitter that was designed to raise awareness about tax identity theft and provide consumers with tips on how to protect themselves. OVC also contributed to an FTC blog that addressed the importance of appropriate support for victims of identity theft.