The balancing Act

A new federal mandate compensates for the mutually exclusive needs of sex crime investigations and sexual assault victims


     According to Department of Justice (DOJ) documents, STOP funds are granted to support professional training regarding violent crimes against women, development or expansion of units within the justice and enforcement system that target violence against women, development or expansion of policies and services that prevent or respond to violence against women, for example. Applications for STOP funding are reviewed individually and approved by DOJ. Documents for the 2007 grant program report the base award amount per state at $600,000, but may be greater based on availability of monies. Additional awards are distributed based on population.

     States seeking support to organize a structure which complies with the VAWA mandate are coordinating with the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), a non-profit organization which OVW has appropriated funds for this purpose. Its Web site, www.mcasa.org, has multiple informational resources, as well as a list of best practices for states to follow and contact information.

     The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center's executive director, Gina Scaramella, described the case of a woman who was raped by two men. She told Scaramella she hadn't wanted to go to the hospital, but her friends pushed her, so she agreed. "She didn't want to have anything to do with reporting, but felt very supported during the exam and later said, 'You know, I didn't even want to do this, but you're making me think maybe I can do more.' " At least to have that option to do more could be hope enough.

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