Office of Violence Against Women Standards

“The mission of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, is to provide federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.”–DOJ Office on Violence Against Women

Below represent best practices in this field. While some of the standards may have changed since this posting, we believe the information below still reflects an ideal approach to combat relationship abuse and sexual violence on campuses.

The following activities have been found to jeopardize victim safety, deter or prevent physical and emotional healing for victims, or allow offenders to escape responsibility for their actions. This should not be happening at universities:

  • Universities should not implement policies and procedures that fail to honor and maintain a victim’s confidentiality
  • Universities should not implement policies that require the victim to report the sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking to law enforcement
  • Universities should not implement and sustain procedures that would force victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking to testify against their abusers or impose other sanctions on them
  • Universities should not fail to provide victims the option of making the final decision on their class schedule and/or living arrangement or fail to provide reasonable academic & housing accommodations
  • Universities should not inflict restrictive conditions to be met by victims in order to receive services (e.g. requiring victims to seek protection orders or to seek counseling; these options need to be a choice made by the victim and not a condition(s) imposed upon them prior to the delivery of services)
  • Universities should not be encouraging perpetrators (those who choose to do harm) to enter into pre-trial diversion programs
  • Universities should not encourage mediation or counseling for couples as a response to domestic violence
  • Universities should not have prevention programs that focus primarily on victim behavior because they reinforce the myth that victims somehow provoke or cause the violence they experience
  • Universities should not have programs that focus primarily on alcohol and substance abuse; [OR letters to parents and students that link these two concepts]
  • Universities should not be supporting batterer intervention programs that do not use the coercive power of the criminal justice system to hold batterers accountable for their behavior