Va. Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney launches domestic violence awareness campaign

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Commonwealth’s Attorney of Virginia Beach launched a domestic violence awareness campaign Monday.

Domestic violence is any form of physical violence against a family or household member. It is punishable by up to 12 months in jail for the first offense and often happens between intimate partners, but can include abuse of children and parents. Domestic violence can impact anyone, regardless of age, socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic or educational backgrounds.

In 2015 and 2016, about 25 percent of Virginia Beach homicides were domestic-related, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

“This office has seen too many victims killed at the hands of a loved one,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle said in a news release.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office says their campaign will focus on acknowledging the hardships of ending an abusive relationship, educating domestic violence victims about resources and encouraging them to leave volatile relationships and seek safety.

“Abusers thrive off of exerting power and control, leaving their loved ones afraid to get out. Too often, this fear of escaping the home has resulted in serious injury or death,” Stolle continued.

Although Commonwealth’s Attorneys in Virginia are not required or funded to prosecute misdemeanor domestic violence cases, the Virginia Beach prosecutors have made domestic violence prosecution a priority over the years.

Recently, the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has prosecuted over 1,500 domestic violence cases a year.

Domestic violence victims are often reluctant to report abuse and often struggle with participating in the prosecution of their loved one. Although there are challenges involved in escaping a volatile relationship, there are resources available to help victims of domestic violence, regardless of the situation.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office created a public service announcement on domestic violence, which illustrates some of the difficulties domestic violence victims face.

Victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking or human trafficking should call the Samaritan House Crisis Response Hotline at 757-430-2120. The hotline is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In case of emergency, you should of course call 911. You can find more information about resources available to domestic violence victims here.

“Domestic violence is a very real problem happening in our community every day.  The number of domestic related homicides in our city is alarming, and it is important that the public know there are ways out before it reaches that point,” Stolle said.