Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA)
New Jersey is responding to the crisis of violence that has emerged in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic through an innovative approach to public safety. In September 2022, through an administrative directive, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin created a new Division within the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA).
VIVA will advance a unified strategy for public safety by bringing together victim services, including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the Department’s violence intervention and prevention programming. VIVA will centralize these services, under one roof and provide staffing to support these programs statewide.
- Promote a trauma-informed approach on victim assistance and violence intervention services.
- Expand the scope of the victim population served by the Department.
- Develop an infrastructure for victim assistance and violence intervention and prevention services.
- Serve as a resource center and hub of technical assistance and training.
- Coordinate among, build partnerships between, and support initiatives involving law enforcement entities and victim assistance and violence intervention and prevention service providers.
- Provide a structure and outlet for community stakeholders to provider input to improve services.
- Support policies and practices that recognize the important of cultural competency of those providing victim assistance and violence intervention services.
The creation of VIVA marks a transformational step in how New Jersey approaches public safety.
Directive Creating the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance
Patricia Teffenhart is the Executive Director of the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA). Teffenhart, of Holmdel, was formerly the Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the NJ Chamber of Commerce where she led initiatives to support and expand the business community’s commitment to, and advancement of, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to joining the Chamber, Patricia served as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) from 2013 to 2021, and during her tenure she successfully advocated for passage of the Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act of 2015, co-chaired the Governor’s appointed Campus Sexual Assault Task Force, and helped to ensure loopholes were closed in the hiring practices for school employees to protect children from sexual predators, among other accomplishments. Patricia is a proud graduate of Douglass College and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration.