An Overview of Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council

The Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council is a non-profit organization that deals with child abuse, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Their mission is to coordinate resources for educating, creating awareness, preventing and responding to reduce the occurrence of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking cases. The idea behind the organization is to make such crimes culturally and socially unacceptable in the Virgin Islands.

What work will the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council do?

Sexual violence includes crimes like rape, assault, and sexual abuse. Statistics reveal that in the US, almost 1 out of 5 women are likely to be raped in their lifetime. 1 out of 2 experience sexual violence other than rape. Often these incidents are perpetrated by people who are close to the victims. Usually, those who happen to be physically violent towards their partners also abuse them sexually. So, victims that are both sexually and physically abused are more likely to die or get injured than those suffering any one kind of abuse. Abuse is not restricted to a specific gender or race; it can happen across various ethnicities, social classes, and races.

Sexual assault by partners and rape are usually used for controlling and demeaning victims. Around 14%-25% of the women, who have been assaulted sexually, have been abused by their partners in the course of relationships. And almost 45% of women who are part of abusive relationships are likely to be sexually assaulted too in their relationships. Interestingly, nearly 50% of women who have been raped by intimate partners have been victims of sexual assault many times inflicted by the same person. Such women are likely to suffer long-term and severe damages in terms of their physical or mental health, much like victims of rape. The Virgin islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council seeks to protect such victims.

Marital rape is also a common phenomenon where the victim is raped by the spouse and not a non-married partner. Until 1976, the state legislations had exempted this from rape laws but it was in this year that Nebraska State legally recognized nonconsensual intercourse as rape. All American states followed suit and by 1993, they has either partially or completely repealed marital rape exemptions. This is perhaps the most under-reported type of sexual assault which this organization seeks to highlight. The truth is only about 36% of victims report this to the police.

The DVSAC has been actively involved in establishing funds for survivors and hosting national conferences to create awareness about sexual assault. Working to eradicate domestic violence anywhere can be a big challenge and doing this in a place like Virgin Islands is no different. Being a small place with familiar faces, and where truth is often seen as going against the family, the work is even harder. The council believes in hosting group sessions on beaches, and providing for counseling sessions which are laid back and not rushed.

The Virgin Islands has been a spiritual community and this has helped victims to get back on their feet faster. At the same time, victims are often scared to reveal the truth or speaking up. DVSAC is working hard to increase its social media presence to highlight national and social issues.  Besides the community programs hosted by it, the staff at DVSAC is highly committed to stopping violence by preventing violent-prone behaviors. They always speak the truth inside the agency and work on improving themselves as individuals to help others.