The Crimes of Violence Against Women Division assists women who have been the victim of doemstic violence, sexual assault, and other gender-based crime, and seeks justice on their behalf.
In recent years, the rate of crimes of violence against women in the United States have risen at an alarming rate. In the United States today:
- Approximately 1 and 4 women (23.2%) have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Approximately 1 in 10 women (9.7%) have experienced stalking in their lifetime.
- An estimated 2.5 million people aged 16 or older have experienced traditional stalking, while 3.1 million people aged 16 or older have experienced stalking involving the use of technology.
- Approximately 1 in 6 women (16.4%) have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Approximately 1 in every 2 women (47.1%) have experienced contact sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Approximately 1 in 2 women (47.1%) and 1 in 2 men (47.3%) have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Approximately 1 in 3 women (39.7%) and 1 in 2 men (41.1%) have experienced coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Nearly half of all female homicide victims in the US are killed by a current or former male intimate partner.
Aware of these alarming statistics, the Hinds County District Attorney created the Violence Against Women Division to assist women who have been the victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other gender-based crime, and to seek justice on their behalf.
The Violence Against Women Division is led by a seasoned prosecutor, experienced in prosecuting crimes of physical violence and sexual violence against women. That prosecutor is paired with a specialized investigator to assist in investigating cases involving female victims of violent crime. The Division is directly Responsible for the prosecution of all crimes of violence against women from the time of the arrest of the perpetrator through the conclusion of the case. These responsibilities include working with law enforcement to obtain all of the available evidence needed to prosecute the case, preparing and presenting the case to a Hinds County Grand Jury, preparing the case for trial, acting as lead prosecutor during the trial of the case, and recommending appropriate sentencing to the court upon entrance of a guilty plea.
The Division is supported by the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office’s Victim’s Assistance Coordinators, (“VAC”), to ensure that all necessary services and resources are delivered to female victims of violent crimes. When necessary, the VAC identifies services that may benefit specific victims through local service providers such as Rape Crisis, Catholic Charities, Mississippi College School of Law’s Mission First programs, Hinds County Legal Services and local churches.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological, or technological actions or threats of actions or other patterns of coercive behavior that influence another person within an intimate partner relationship. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Examples of abusive behavior include:
- Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc. are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.
- Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.
- Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
- Economic Abuse: Controlling or restraining a person’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain economic resources to which they are entitled. This includes using coercion, fraud, or manipulation to restrict a person’s access to money, assets, credit, or financial information; unfairly using a person’s personal economic resources, including money, assets, and credit, or exerting undue influence over a person’s financial and economic behavior or decisions, including forcing default on joint or other financial obligations, exploiting powers of attorney, guardianship, or conservatorship, or failing or neglecting to act in the best interests of a person to whom one has a fiduciary duty.
- Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include – but are not limited to – causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work. Technological Abuse: An act or pattern of behavior that is intended to harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, impersonate, exploit, extort, or monitor another person that occurs using any form of technology, including but not limited to: internet enabled devices, online spaces and platforms, computers, mobile devices, cameras and imaging programs, apps, location tracking devices, or communication technologies, or any other emerging technologies.
Most often the victims of sexual violence are women and their children. Evidence collection is crucial to the successful prosecution of sexual assault cases and prosecutors working in the Crimes of Violence Against Women Division of the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office are fully aware of the methods and procedures that each law enforcement agency utilizes to respond to sexual assault complaints.
Hinds County Prosecutors working with those complainants are experts in how local health care provides respond to sexual assault victims. Often times Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, S.A.N.E.s, work with social workers, treating physicians and supervising physicians when collecting rape kits. Hinds County District Attorney’s Office’s Prosecutors are familiar with how rape kits are collected and the role each participant, SANE nurse, social worker and physician plays in the collection of rape kits.
Hinds County District Attorney’s Office’s Crimes of Violence Against Women Division Prosecutors have a thorough working knowledge of DNA collection, DNA testing and understanding DNA results. They know the difference between full DNA testing and Y STR testing and the circumstance under which each such test should be used. They have an expertise in understanding DNA reports and utilize those reports to make the strongest arguments to juries. Hinds County District Attorney’s Office’s Crimes of Violence Against Women Division.
For more information about the Division, contact Assistant District Attorney Gwen Agho at GAgho@co.hinds.ms.us or call (601) 968-6568.
If you or someone else is in immediate and serious danger you should call 911.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453
Mississippi Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-222-8000
National Sexual Abuse Hotline 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)