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The Rewards of Being a Victim’s Advocate

June 25th, 2013 · No Comments · International Destination Information

victim's advocate

The rewards of being a victim’s advocate are not public adulation, convenient hours, or the pay. The greatest reward is the feeling of satisfaction you have when you help someone in their darkest hour. You can actually be the only light in a dark tunnel. That is a huge reward.

Violent crime is found is all sectors of population. Every ethnic, social, religious, and economic group has their share of violent crime and violent crime survivors. Traumatized victims are reluctant to ask for help or report the crime.  Physically and emotionally damaged individuals are not prepared to deal with law enforcement investigations and the judicial process. Most victims are not aware of their legal rights, their right for compensation benefits, or protection provisions that could be provided them by the criminal justice system. 

“Victim advocates are professionals trained to support victims of crime.” The advocate’s role is non-judgmental toward the victim and their story, but is as a friend of the victim, concerned with the victim’s well-being. A victim advocate must put personal needs aside to help the victim.

Two objectives
Victim advocate programs are guided by two important objectives. Objective one is to assist people who have undergone physical, emotional, or other loss because of a criminal act. The second is as an intermediary in aiding officers and investigators working on the case.

Statistically, victims are people who have been traumatized by a sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse. Victim advocates work to guide victims through the crisis until they recover the level of functioning they enjoyed prior to the attack. As a victim’s advocate, your responsibilities may include:

·         Providing on-the-spot crisis intervention.
·         Providing sensitive support to victims and family.
·         Providing referrals to agencies that provide shelter, medical, and financial support.
·         Assisting in filling out forms dealing with victim compensation and victim impact statements.
·         Helping the victim to make knowledgeable decisions by providing them with resources available to them.
·         Providing resources for domestic violence investigations, if needed.
·         Continuing to support victims as long as the victim requests help.
·         Accompanying victims, when asked, to interviews, medical examinations, and court appearances.
·         Providing aid in property recovery.
·         Providing victims with follow-up information on investigations.

Victim advocates may work within the district attorney’s office, hospitals, community programs, jails, or shelters. Advocates may specialize in specific areas such as sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence. The preferred training for victim advocates is a degree in psychology, criminal justice or social work, these majors are often found in an universities’ College of Arts and Sciences.

Working as a victim’s advocate gives you personal experience in providing support to people in dire need. It gives you knowledge about police investigations and enforcement, our Justice System, and the nature of victimization. The rewards of being a victim’s advocate will not be in the extrinsic realm of financial gain and public praise. The rewards are intrinsic and will leave you feeling good about what you do.

[Photo Via: Viva Bradford]

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