Through our daily experience with families of violent crime victims, Aftermath Inc. crime scene clean up sees first hand the need for support during these unfortunate circumstances. There are a number of resources available to help families cope with this difficult time. A crime victim advocate is specially trained to provide an individual with knowledge about all of the options available.
What is a victim advocate?
A victim advocate is an educated professional who offers information and emotional support. This is in addition to helping an individual find resources by contacting organizations in criminal justice or social service agencies and filling out necessary, but sometimes complicated, paperwork, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. By providing information on the agencies, groups and companies that offer helpful services, a victim advocate better ensures that an individual receives the care and necessary offerings. It’s common for victim advocates to have extensive knowledge about grief counseling practices, trauma cleanup specialists and legal services.
Some advocates staff crisis hotlines, run support groups or provide in-person counseling to victims. The job responsibilities of an advocate will vary depending on his or her job description and what type of organization they work for.
Common services provided by a victim advocate
One of the primary services a victim advocate will provide is immediate emergency relief or assistance directly following the crime. After law enforcement interviews a victim, an advocate is available to provide any aid that is required to meet the person’s basic needs, including providing him or her with shelter, food, counseling or contact information for specialized services. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, a victim advocate may be able to:
- Provide information about victimization
- Educate others about crime prevention
- Guide victims about their rights as they go through the legal system
- Contribute information about the criminal justice system
- Provide emotional support
- Help victims file victim compensation applications
- Assist victims with submitting comments to courts and parole boards
- Intervene with creditors, landlords and employers on behalf of victims
- Help victims find shelter and necessary transportation
- Provide referrals to victim service providers and businesses
- Notify victims of inmates’ release or escape
Victim advocates are typically available through local law enforcement agencies or through state or regional government attorney offices. To find a victim advocate, consult with a local agency or check the State Advocacy List available through the National Organization for Victim Assistance.
Victim advocate training
Many victim advocates have an educational background in criminal justice. Often someone interested in this career path has completed a community or national training program recommended by the local law enforcement agencies or district attorney’s office. Training typically lasts a year and only begins once a complete background check has been passed. A background in criminal justice and basic psychology is traditional for victim advocates.
Get information on nationwide and local crime victim’s assistance programs.