They might not describe themselves as such, but Domestic and Sexual Violence Services’ Community Engagement Services (CES) team is the engine that drives DSVS. We chatted with Debra Ranf, Community Engagement Services supervisor, about what CES does, and this is what she told us:
Volunteer Voices: We hear the phrase “community engagement” a lot, but what exactly does DSVS’ CES do?
Debra Ranf: The Community Engagement Services team is the umbrella for the following community programs:
1) The Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline, which provides ‘round-the-clock support, crisis intervention, safety planning, education, and resources to victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking, as well as to their families, friends, and service providers.
In addition, the hotline staff gives guidance and information to allied professionals and community members who work with victims/survivors and supports victims/survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual violence during a forensic exam at INOVA Fairfax hospital. Crisis Line staff coordinates scheduling of Hotline shifts for two crisis lines.
2) The Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) Line, an evidence-based lethality assessment protocol that helps first responders assess the level of imminent danger to victims/survivors of intimate partner violence. The Fairfax County Police Department utilizes the LAP line whenever they respond to incidents of intimate partner violence within the county and victims/survivors score high on the LAP assessment. The goal is to connect victims to county- and community-based resources and assure safety for 24 hours after the incident. LAP Hotline staff provide support, safety planning, guidance, information, and referrals.
3) The Hospital Accompaniment Program is a 24-hour service that provides emotional support to victims of domestic and sexual violence prior to, during and after a forensic exam. Pre-COVID, this service was provided in the Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team (FACT) Department at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. During COVID, services are done via telephone. The forensic nurse connects victims with CES staff, which:
- Provides crisis intervention, safety planning, education, guidance and referrals to victims/survivors, friends and family accompanying the victim.
- Develops and delivers educational and outreach programming and training, primarily at Inova Fairfax Hospital, regarding sexual violence and related topics.
- Liaises between FACT and DSVS through victim referrals for services. Provides consultation and support to other departments at Inova Fairfax Hospital when patients disclose domestic violence or sexual violence victimization.
- Administers the Hospital Accompaniment and Support Advocacy (HASA) program, which is the volunteer opportunity for the Hospital Accompaniment Program.
- Serves as subject matter experts on domestic and sexual violence victimization.
4) Outreach and Education Services provides presentations, trainings, display tables, and workshops on domestic and sexual violence to community and faith-based groups, businesses, and schools. Outreach and Education Services also develop publications and materials for presentations and outreach efforts.
5) Volunteer Coordination Services recruits, trains, and assesses volunteer candidates to support DSVS in the provision of direct services to those affected by domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, or stalking.
We could not do our jobs without our volunteers’ significant contribution.
VV: What’s the single most important thing the CES team does?
DR: Everything CES does has a significant community component. Everything has to do with engaging the community by providing support, safety planning, crisis intervention, education, outreach, and information and referrals.
VV: If someone volunteers for CES, what might that person do?
DR: CES volunteers have a wide array of opportunities, including:
- Hotline Counselor – Provides information, crisis intervention, safety planning, referrals, and supportive counseling for callers to the DSVS Hotline. This service is always via phone.
- Hospital Accompaniment Service Advocate (HASA) – Provides support to victims/survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual violence during a forensic evidence collection exam at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Pre-COVID accompaniment was in-person; during COVID it is via telephone.
- Community Outreach Ambassador – Assists with outreach activities to educate the public about domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, and stalking. Services are suspended temporarily during COVID.
- Office Assistant – Assists with completion of administrative tasks. Pre-COVID, administrative tasks were performed in-person; they are done remotely when possible during COVID.
VV: What else should we know about CES?
DR: All programs provide compassionate and client-driven services.
This article posting is part of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services' Volunteer Voices monthly newsletter for current and potential volunteers. If you're not already a volunteer, learn how to get involved. Find out about upcoming trainings, volunteer trainings, happenings around the DSVS office and information about articles, books, media recommendations and more.
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