Kentucky Governor proclaims Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Pat Byron honored on 25th anniversary of victim notification system

FRANKFORT, KY (STL.News) Gov. Andy Beshear joined advocates at the state Capitol to proclaim Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Kentucky, and he urged Kentuckians to speak out and take a stand against the crime.

The Governor said it is unacceptable that in Kentucky more than 45% of women and 35% of men experience intimate partner physical violence or rape in their lifetimes.

“We must all lend our voices to speak out against domestic violence and work to stop it – now,” Gov. Beshear said. “Combating violent crime, seeking justice for victims and supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault is a core mission for my administration, and I am asking Kentuckians to help us be a leader by showing the nation that we do not tolerate domestic violence in Kentucky.”

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey joined the Governor and Pat Byron, whose daughter’s murder in 1993 caused her and her late husband, John, to fight tirelessly for a system that would notify victims when their offender is released from jail.

Pat and John’s daughter, Mary, was killed by her estranged boyfriend, who she thought was still in jail on charges of raping, assaulting and stalking her.  Mary’s parents had requested to be notified upon the offender’s release from jail, but that notification never came.

The Governor thanked Pat for her work that led to the creation of Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) 25 years ago.  VINE is a free and automatic notification for victims that provides timely custody status updates via email, phone call and text messages.

“Our family has championed this system for 25 years and have always fought so that other victims can avoid the pain and suffering that our daughter and our family had to endure.  No one should go through this and VINE has made a difference not only in Kentucky but across our country,” said Pat Bryon.

In 2020, Kentucky VINE searches totaled over 2.1 million and the total number of notifications was 322,899. Additionally, in the last year there have been 74,682 new registrations.

Secretary Harvey also announced significant enhancements to VINE, made possible through a federal grant awarded last year.  New features include a voice search option, enhanced security, a personalized watch list and a zip code and county provider search feature.

“Kentucky Enhanced VINE provides another step forward on our journey to make Kentucky a safer place for all of our families,” said Secretary Harvey.  “By working together, we will be able to reduce violent crime and its impact on victims.”

“With the new enhancements, victims and survivors now have a much more user friendly environment to receive information,” said Iliannexis Hall, VINE program manager for Kentucky.  “This technology can save lives, and we are proud to now offer these much-needed enhancements.”

“VINE has undoubtedly prevented thousands of deaths and violent crimes by helping victims receive real-time information that keeps them safe, and helps them regain control in their daily lives,” said Mike Davis, co-founder of Appriss, who with a partner developed VINE.  “Every citizen in the commonwealth should be proud that this system was launched here and now provides this protection throughout our nation.”

Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has been committed to preventing violent crime, and has awarded more than $60 million in grant funding to victim service agencies across the commonwealth that work to prevent future acts of intimate partner violence and ensure the safety of survivors, while also providing victims access to and choice of domestic violence shelters and resources.

“Domestic violence is a serious public health issue that directly or indirectly affects all Kentuckians,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence Angela Yannelli.  “Early intervention and access to services is critical in reducing physical and psychological impacts of the violence.  KCADV and its 15 regional member programs throughout the state are open and ready to support survivors through every step of their healing journey.”

Last week, the Governor and Secretary Harvey announced more than $29 million in federal grant funding to 132 service provider programs to support victims of crime.

In July 2021, Gov. Beshear announced that nearly $2 million in grant funding is available to fight violence against women by supporting law enforcement, prosecution and victim services.  Gov. Beshear also announced $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Justice grants awarded to the commonwealth to form the Kentucky State Police Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Investigative Team that is working to analyze cases, catch offenders and link serial predators.

Kentucky State Police also provides a Victim Advocate Support Services program, which connects victims with an advocate to help them find needed services and legal support.  Kentuckians can contact a local KSP post to obtain assistance through the victim advocate program.

Gov. Beshear carried the same mission to seek justice for victims and stop violent crime when he served as the state’s attorney general.  As attorney general, he prioritized clearing the rape kit backlog and established a Cold Case Unit, which helped to catch sexual predators who had evaded charges for far too long.  He created the nation’s first Survivors Council to advise and assist his office on matters related to victims of crime.  During his tenure, a record number of child predators were caught and an anti-human trafficking unit was created, which helped rescue victims and hold offenders accountable.

Report Domestic Violence

Kentucky’s domestic violence programs and shelters are OPEN 24/7 and are safe for survivors and their families to receive emergency shelter and supportive services.  If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs assistance, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, by calling 1-800-799-SAFE, or visiting KCADV.org.