Domestic Violence

Nearly half of all women in the United States have experienced at least one form of psychological aggression by an intimate partner.

On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

One out of three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.

Intimate Partner Violence occurs across age, ethnic, gender and economic lines, among persons with disabilities, and among both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

Domestic and intimate partner violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control or power over another intimate partner. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions, or threats and includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Anyone can become a victim regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.  Domestic violence affects people of all backgrounds and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.

Many victims believe that the abuse will go away on its own. However, domestic violence is a pattern of abuse in an intimate relationship that escalates over time. The Cycle of Violence (shown below) depicts this pattern:

The Cycle of Violence:




Domestic and Sexual Violence Prosecution Unit

The Domestic and Sexual Violence Prosecution Unit is composed of prosecutors, victim witness assistants, and a community safety investigator from the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, and an investigator from the Lynchburg Police Department. A Protective Order Advocate from the local YWCA Domestic Violence Prevention Center also works with the team and assists victims in navigating the civil process and in locating resources.

Unit members are assigned all cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking within the jurisdiction. Using centralized centralized investigation and vertical prosecution. These highly trained individuals work as a team to make sure domestic violence victims receive information and support throughout all stages of the criminal justice process.  Formed in 1998, in response to the growing number of domestic violence incidents in the community, the Unit's goals are:

  • Ensure the safety of domestic violence victims and their family.
  • Promote a clear understanding of domestic violence as a crime.
  • Hold offenders accountable for their violent acts.
  • Provide training for area law enforcement and community responders
  • Work with other agencies in the community to promote a coordinated response to the needs of victims.
  • Raise awareness and reshape the social norms around domestic and intimate partner violence so that battered women receive the support and care they deserve.

Unit Staff:

Janell Johnson
Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney
Unit Supervisor
(434) 455-3775

Theresa Young
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney
(434) 455-2696

Brittany Roark
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney
(434) 455-3769

Randy Trent
Domestic Violence Investigator
(434) 455-3779

Victim Witness Program:  (434) 455-3790

Mary Booker: (434) 455-3786,

Emma Moulder: (434) 485-8312,

Judy McDarris: (434) 455-3781,

Lauren Barber: (434) 455-3927

Daphne Allen: (434) 455-3957

Pam Cooke: (434) 485-8312

Debbie Drake: (434) 485-8311

Safety Planning

If you are in an abusive situation, it is important that you have a plan for your safety and the safety of your children. Don't ignore the problem--plan ahead and know what you will do if the abuse starts again. What can you do to help yourself?  Please consider some or all of these important steps:

  • Call the Victim Witness Program, YWCA Domestic Violence Prevention Center, Sexual Assault Response Program (number are provided below) and connect with supportive and caring people, not those who might blame you for the abuse.
  • Secure a protective order if necessary - it prohibits an individual from harassing, threatening, approaching, accosting, or even contacting you (refer to the Protective Order section below).
  • Identify your partner's use and level of force so that you can tell when you and your children are in danger before it occurs.
  • Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape.  If arguments begin, try to move to one of these areas.
  • If possible, have a phone handy at all times and know what numbers to call for help.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Use a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
  • Set aside emergency money and hide an extra set of car keys.
  • Don't be afraid to call the police.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation, and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
  • Develop a Personalized Safety Plan today--don't wait!

Protective Orders

If you are experiencing threatening or violent behaviors, a Protective Order is one tool that may be available to help you. What you need to about these orders:

  • A Protective Order is a legal document issued by the court to help protect you, your children, and other family or household members from someone who is hurting you or causing you fear.
  • A Protective Order is a civil remedy for individuals experiencing acts and/or threats of violence that results in bodily injury or places you in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.
  • If you have been kicked, punched, bitten, burned, shoved, sexually assaulted, held against your will, forcefully restrained, cut with an object, stalked, threatened with a gun, or other weapon and any of these items caused an injury; or someone threatened to do any of these things to you and you are in fear, you may be eligible for a Protective Order.

Where and How to Obtain a Protective Order:

  • In Virginia the type of relationship you have or have had with the person who is threatening or harming you determines where you should request a protective order.  If your relationship with this person meets Virginia's legal definition of a family or household member you may be eligible for a Family Abuse Protective Order and your request should be made in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. (VA Code §16.1-228, Family or Household Member - your spouse (husband or wife), your former souse, someone that you have a child in common with, or someone you live with or used to live with as a boyfriend or girlfriend, in the past year. It could also be another family member such as your parents, grandparents, children, brother or sister whether or not you live together. In some cases it could be your in-laws that you live with.
  • All other requests for protective orders will be in General District Court.
  • Ms. Debra Drake, Protective Order with YWCA Domestic Violence Prevention Center (434) 485-8311 or Ms. Pam Cooke, Domestic Violence Court Advocate with the Lynchburg Victim/Witness Program (434) 485-8312 can assist with questions, completing forms, and can accompany and help navigate the civil court process.

Types of Protective Orders:

  • Emergency Protective Order (EPO):
    • If an arrest has been made, the police officer will usually request an Emergency Protective Order if they believe further abuse may occur. This order can only be issued by a Magistrate or a Judge and last up to 72 hours or until court meets.  A victim can request an emergency protective order at the magistrate's office if an arrest has not occurred.
  • Preliminary Protective Order (PPO):
    • Can only be issued by a Judge in situations where there isn't enough time for a full hearing but there is danger for further abuse.  Generally lasts up to 15 days and can be extended if the abuser cannot be served.
  • Permanent Protective Order
    • This order is issued if there is enough evidence of an act or threat of violence and both parties are present in court.  It can be issued for up to two years. These orders can be extended for an additional two years if the petitioner requests  an extension and the judge finds facts sufficient.

Resources on Protective Orders:

Protective Orders in Virginia,Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance

What You Need to Know About Protective Orders, Virginia Court System - District Court Protective Order Information Sheet

** Strangulation:  If your partner attempted to strangle you please note that this is a very serious form of physical violence experienced by victims of intimate partner violence.

What should you do if this is or has happened to you:

  • Help is available. Call 911 and seek medical attention even if you don't believe there is any outward sign of injury.
  • Be aware that you can lose consciousness within ten seconds and brain death can begin in 4-5 minutes.
  • Tell the medical team you were strangled and share the details to the best of your ability.  It could save your life.

Important Contacts and Resources

  • Victim Witness Program (Lynchburg)
    (434) 455-3790, Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM.  If you call in the afterhours, please leave a message detailing your name, number, and the best time to return your call.
  • Lynchburg YWCA Domestic Violence Prevention Center
    (434) 528-1041 or 1- 888-528-1041.  Provides 24 hour hotline as well as shelter, support groups, assistance with housing, food, and other needs.
  • Sexual Assault Response Program
    (434) 947-7273 or 1-888-947-7273. Provides 24-hour hotline and face-to-face accompaniment at the hospital, police department, and other safe locations.
  • Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline
    If you or someone you know needs help call the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-838-8238 or the LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline, 1-800-356-6998. If you are not able to call you can text, 804-793-999. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
  • Department of Corrections Victim Services Section
    Call 1-800-560-4292 to request notice of the release, transfer, name change, or escape of incarcerated offenders in the state prison system.
  • Office of Attorney General General
    Call 1-800-370-0459 to request notice of the defendant appeal of his/her conviction and/or sentence.
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, phone: 1-800-552-4007, FAX: (804) 367-1021.