Grant awarded to help reduce sexual assault in Danville

Four organizations will work together to use grant

DANVILLE, Va. – A grant from the federal government will be used to help reduce violence against women in Danville.

Four organizations will work together to use the grant.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning at Averett University, one of the four organizations.

A round of applause erupted after Averett University President Dr. Tiffany Franks announced the three-year, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's office of violence against women.

"Averett will lead a communitywide initiative that will bring together key stake holders from the region," Franks said. "We know we can affect real, positive change."

The university's nursing program will offer training to help nurses at Sovah Health identify signs of sexual assault.

The local domestic violence shelter will hire two new employees, including one to help coordinate a team of people locally to help improve services for sexual assault victims.

The grant will also allow those team members and Danville police officers to receive training to help them interview sexual assault victims.

"Many times, we forget about our victims," Danville Police Chief Scott Booth said.

Booth said working together is a key part of his two main goals of reducing crime and increasing community engagement.

"Only through partnerships with member agencies like the (the local domestic violence shelter), Sovah, with Averett University can we come together and really change the face of the city of Danville," Booth said.

The executive director of the local domestic violence shelter, Lisa Caviness, said the community now has the responsibility to build on this partnership.

"When a victim comes to you, when they find the resolve and the courage to come to you and share, we need to simply start believing," Caviness said.