The James House: Supporting victims of domestic violence in Virginia

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities

The James House

HOPEWELL, Va., June 15, 2013 – Collaboration with local service providers is key for first responders working with survivors of any type of crime, including forms of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. It is important to know what services are available in your specific areas; this includes substance abuse programs, domestic violence programs, and any other outreach services.

Not all victims are in need of the same services; and your knowledge of distinctions between programs may be what sets a person on the path to recovery. This week’s featured service provider is The James House Intervention/Prevention Services, Inc.

How was The James House (TJH) started?

TJH was founded in 1989 on the belief that all people deserve a life free from interpersonal violence. We began as the Survivor’s Outreach Center serving people affected by sexual violence. We later became the Sexual Assault Outreach Program, and when we obtained funding to begin providing services for those affected by domestic violence and stalking as well, we became The James House.

What is your organization’s mission statement?

Providing support, advocacy, and education for people in the Tri-Cities area of Virginia affected by sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking to empower them to become healthy, safe, and self-sufficient.

Who are your board members and/or co-founders?

Phil Munson: Chairperson; Corie Tilman Wolf: Vice Chairperson; Cheryl Justice: Treasurer; William Lightfoot: Secretary; William Gandel, Andy Clark, Margaret Morgan, and Estee Newby Howard

Where are your headquarters based and where are your efforts based?

Our main business office is located in Hopewell, Va. We have satellite office space in Petersburg, Prince George County, Dinwiddie County, and southern Chesterfield County. Our service area includes the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg and the counties of Prince George, Dinwiddie, and southern Chesterfield.

Do you offer outreach services, residential programs or both? 

We do not provide residential services. Our outreach services are geared towards raising awareness about the issues surrounding interpersonal violence. Our direct services include a 24-hour hotline, safe shelter, safety planning, individual counseling, support group, case management, food pantry, clothes closet, community referrals, court accompaniment, and hospital accompaniment. All of our services are cost-free and confidential.

If you offer housing, how many individuals are you able to accommodate? Which ages/genders are qualified for housing? Are you able to house mothers with children?

We offer safe shelter for anyone who is in imminent danger from sexual or domestic violence. This service is available to women, men, transgender, and children under 18 if accompanied by an adult.

Are the services you provide in accordance with any particular curriculum?  What sets you apart from other programs? How are your services specialized for those populations which you serve?

TJH is accredited by the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance. We must meet stringent standards in order to be an accredited sexual and domestic violence agency. We do not follow a set curriculum for any of our services; however, we do have several curricula available for use with support groups, etc.  We are the only accredited domestic & sexual violence agency in our service area providing specialist interpersonal violence services.

Do you have any programs / curricula that are specific to victims of sex trafficking or other forms of human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, or sexual abuse / exploitation?  If so, please describe.

We provide services for people affected by any kind of sexual violence. We do use “The Courage to Heal Workbook” with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We do not have curricula specific to human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation.

What is the best way for victims or for first responders to reach you for services?

Our 24-hour crisis line number is (804) 458-2840. We can also be reached at or through our website:

Are there necessary avenues for law enforcement/social services to follow before a victim can be placed into your program?

Anyone can make a referral to our agency. We then talk with/meet with the person to do an extensive intake/needs assessment to determine if they are eligible for our services. If someone is not eligible for our services, we make referrals to community agencies that may be more appropriate.

Are you involved with other efforts related to advocacy within your state or community? 

The James House is a member agency of the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance; four local and one regional Domestic Violence Task Forces; four Sexual Assault Response Teams and one Sexual Assault Review Board (on Fort Lee).

Please share any recent awards or annual events.

The James House was recognized by the Cameron Foundation with the 2012 Excellence in Organizational Management Award and the 2008 Cleveland A. Wright Award for outstanding Community Service. We have a very successful outreach campaign and fundraising event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

Please share any upcoming events or honors.

This month, we will host our Volunteer/Donor Appreciation Event; and in September, we will take part in the Amazing Raise event sponsored by the Community Foundation.

What has been the greatest achievement or most meaningful recognition or experience for your organization?

Our greatest achievement is providing quality, meaningful services for people affected by interpersonal violence to help them become empowered to live safe, healthier lives. Our greatest recognition was being the recipient of the Excellence in Organizational Management Award last year.

Where do you hope to see your organization in the future?

We will continue to build upon our solid foundation, serving more people and raising more awareness about the issues of domestic and sexual violence.

How can the public help you with your plight?

TJH relies heavily upon individual and corporate monetary donations. We receive grant funding for a great deal of our direct service work, but we need to raise approximately $100,000 a year to meet our budget. We also have a solid group of community volunteers who assist us with things such as answering our hotline, co-facilitating support groups, providing accompaniment to court/hospital, sorting donations, attending community events to raise awareness, etc.

Our Board of Directors is also made up of volunteers as are our board sub-committees. We are always on the lookout for passionate, motivated, committed people willing to donate their time. We collect used cell phones and ink cartridges and we always have a need to small denomination gift cards to gas stations and stores such as Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc.

How can community members reach you or your organization for questions or more information?

Contact us at, through our website, or by calling (804) 458-2704.

What is your organization’s Twitter handle and Facebook page?

Twitter @TheJamesHouse

Facebook: The-James-House

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