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Victim Advocacy/Advocates

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Every crime has a victim, but not every victim has a voice within the criminal justice system. Victims often need someone to help them identify and assert their rights, navigate an unfamiliar criminal justice system process, issue a victim impact statement, provide counseling and support, or locate and obtain the services they need to help ease the impact of their victimization. Victim advocates perform a myriad of functions that may include speaking or acting on a victim’s behalf; serving as a liaison between the victim and the court system to minimize the physical, psychological, emotional, and financial effects of the crime on the victim; and working to effect social and system changes.

The following resources provide information on issues related to victim advocacy.


OVC and OVC-Sponsored Publications

Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States: Fiscal Years 2013-2014 Status Report (July 2015) OVC, Report, 64 pages, NCJ 248967.
The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013–2017. This status report identifies progress made by federal agencies during fiscal years 2013-2014 to address the goals, objectives, and the actions identified in the Federal Strategic Action Plan to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the U.S. are identified and have access to the services they need to recover.
PDF
 
Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma DVD (April 2015) OVC, 0 pages, NCJ 239938.
This video series addresses the needs of children exposed to crime, abuse, and violence; highlights major issues in child victimization; identifies promising practices for service providers and others working with young victims; and shows how trauma-informed care can help child victims recover to lead healthy, productive lives. Online only companion resource guides accompany each video.
Abstract | HTML
 
2015 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Poster (January 2015) OVC, PS000028.
The 2015 NCVRW poster evokes the 2015 theme—"Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims."—and reminds us of the importance of creating a victim response system that is open and accessible to all survivors and victims of crime. The poster highlights the importance of building partnerships throughout our communities to better address all victims’ needs by believing them and offering support and resources regardless of where they disclose their victimization. Everybody plays a role. The poster is available for download in 22" x 28" in color or black & white and can be customized for your organization before printing.
PDF (Color, 22 x 28) | PDF (Black & White, 22 x 28) | HTML (JPG, Color, 22 x 28) | HTML (JPG, Black & White, 22 x 28)
 
2015 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide (January 2015) OVC, 182 pages, NCJ 247813.
The 2015 NCVRW Resource Guide, released ahead of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 19 to 25, highlights this year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims. The Guide includes a wide array of user-friendly outreach tools and sample products, a Theme DVD, current statistics on victimization, information on the history of victims’ rights in the United States, and concrete, practical ideas for engaging your community and empowering victims. Hardcopy versions of this year's Guide, which can be ordered through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) at www.ncjrs.gov, include Introductory Materials and NCVRW Resource Guide Artwork.
Abstract | PDF | HTML
 
Identity (ID) Theft Toolkit (2014) OVC-Sponsored, Grant, 2 pages, NCJ 248389.
National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network (NITVAN) coalitions across the country each contributed to the creation of this toolkit for victim advocates, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and anyone else involved in assisting victims. In this toolkit, you’ll find guidance on improving and expanding service to identity theft victims, starting a collaborative group in your area, as well as downloadable, ready-to-customize training materials, brochures, and more.
Abstract | HTML
 

OJP Publications

Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report (February 2015) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 551 pages, NCJ 248680.
This report documents the Detroit Sexual Assault Action-Research Project, in which a multidisciplinary team looked at the issue of a large number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that had not been sent to a crime lab for DNA-testing. The team identified the underlying factors that contributed to the issue; developed and evaluated a plan for testing the SAKs; and created and evaluated protocols for notifying victims of the results of the testing. The report also offers practitioner-friendly resources, including how to create victim-notification protocols.
Abstract | PDF
 
Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States (October 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 306 pages, NCJ 248461.
This report explores patterns of labor trafficking in the U.S., and found that trafficking occurs in multiple industries, including agriculture, hospitality, construction, and restaurants. The report verified that labor trafficking usually goes unreported, and law enforcement often have difficulty distinguishing labor trafficking from other workplace exploitation. Policy and practice implications of this research for federal and local law enforcement and victims' service agencies are outlined.
Abstract | PDF
 
Improving Human Trafficking Victim Identification-Validation and Dissemination of a Screening Tool (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 455 pages, NCJ 246712.
This guide provides users with recommendations on how to build trust with potential victims, maintain confidentiality, and use the tool correctly. When properly used, the tool could give victim service providers, law enforcement and legal, healthcare, and social service providers with a standard means of identifying victims of human trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Screening for Human Trafficking: Guidelines for Administering the Trafficking Victim Identification Tool (TVIT) (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 37 pages, NCJ 246713.
This tool is designed for victim service providers and other providers to assist in identifying victims of human trafficking. Developed over the last seven years by the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with 11 victim service organizations in California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Washington, this NIJ-funded tool has been validated with a diverse sample of potential victims of trafficking and found reliable in predicting labor and sex trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Practical Implications of Current Intimate Partner Violence Research for Victim Advocates and Service Providers (January 2013) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 260 pages, NCJ 244348.
This report expands and enhances the 2009 report titled "Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges" to address the practical implications of current domestic violence research for victim advocates and service providers.
Abstract | PDF
 

Back to Top

Every crime has a victim, but not every victim has a voice within the criminal justice system. Victims often need someone to help them identify and assert their rights, navigate an unfamiliar criminal justice system process, issue a victim impact statement, provide counseling and support, or locate and obtain the services they need to help ease the impact of their victimization. Victim advocates perform a myriad of functions that may include speaking or acting on a victim’s behalf; serving as a liaison between the victim and the court system to minimize the physical, psychological, emotional, and financial effects of the crime on the victim; and working to effect social and system changes.

The following resources provide information on issues related to victim advocacy.


Every crime has a victim, but not every victim has a voice within the criminal justice system. Victims often need someone to help them identify and assert their rights, navigate an unfamiliar criminal justice system process, issue a victim impact statement, provide counseling and support, or locate and obtain the services they need to help ease the impact of their victimization. Victim advocates perform a myriad of functions that may include speaking or acting on a victim’s behalf; serving as a liaison between the victim and the court system to minimize the physical, psychological, emotional, and financial effects of the crime on the victim; and working to effect social and system changes.

The following resources provide information on issues related to victim advocacy.


Each month the Nation's experts answer your questions about best practices in victim services. Below are upcoming and most recent session discussions in this topic:

On May 5 2015 at 2:00PM, Cris Sullivan, Director of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence and Professor of Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State Univers, and Keri Darling, founder and Director/Trainer of DVAS, Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services, hosted a discussion on Build Your Own Body of Evidence-Based Knowledge

On Apr 22 2015 at 2:00PM, Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children's Alliance, and Rebecca Khalil, J.D., staff attorney with the National Crime Victim Law Institute, hosted a discussion on Child Victims: Providing Effective Rights Enforcement Representation

On Apr 8 2015 at 2:00PM, Ann McCarty, Associate Director of the North County (California) Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center, and Leah Holland, former sexual assault response coordinator and domestic violence victim advocate coordinator, U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, South Korea, hosted a discussion on Providing Appropriate Support for Military Victims of Sexual Assault

On Mar 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Katie Monroe, Senior Advocate for National Partnerships at the Innocence Project, and Karin Ho, brings over 30 years combined experience as a victim advocate in the sexual assault, domestic violence and postconviction corrections field, hosted a discussion on Postconviction Exonerations and Victim Assistance

On Feb 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Jennifer Burkmire, advocate for children and a contract consultant for nonprofit organizations that provide social services, and Cynthia King, President of King & Associates, Inc, hosted a discussion on Developing an Effective Multidisciplinary Team

Every crime has a victim, but not every victim has a voice within the criminal justice system. Victims often need someone to help them identify and assert their rights, navigate an unfamiliar criminal justice system process, issue a victim impact statement, provide counseling and support, or locate and obtain the services they need to help ease the impact of their victimization. Victim advocates perform a myriad of functions that may include speaking or acting on a victim’s behalf; serving as a liaison between the victim and the court system to minimize the physical, psychological, emotional, and financial effects of the crime on the victim; and working to effect social and system changes.

The following resources provide information on issues related to victim advocacy.


What is the difference between compensation and restitution?
Restitution is court-ordered and compensation is provided by the Victim Compensation Program in each... Read More

How do I add my program/organization to the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services?
Please visit the Get Posted section of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Online Directory of Cri... Read More

What is victim assistance?
Each year, states and territories receive Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to support community-bas... Read More

What is the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services?
The Online Directory of Crime Victim Services is a Web-enabled, online resource sponsored by the Off... Read More

I am crime victim, how can I get help?
Help in your area is available from your State/Local Victim Compensation and Assistance programs. As... Read More

More FAQs

Every crime has a victim, but not every victim has a voice within the criminal justice system. Victims often need someone to help them identify and assert their rights, navigate an unfamiliar criminal justice system process, issue a victim impact statement, provide counseling and support, or locate and obtain the services they need to help ease the impact of their victimization. Victim advocates perform a myriad of functions that may include speaking or acting on a victim’s behalf; serving as a liaison between the victim and the court system to minimize the physical, psychological, emotional, and financial effects of the crime on the victim; and working to effect social and system changes.

The following resources provide information on issues related to victim advocacy.


FY 2015 National Joint Training Conference for VOCA Victim Assistance and Victim Compensation Administrators (PDF 205 kb)
Deadline: 07/13/2015
One discretionary grant of $175,000 will be awarded to plan and administer the 2016 National Joint Training Conference for VOCA Victim Assistance and Victim Compensation Administrators, a 2.5-day conference that will provide training and technical assistance for Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) administrators, staff, and board members; and facilitate a forum for the presentation of state issues and practices. The conference will employ lectures, panels, workshops, and forums to explore ways to improve the delivery of crime victim services; provide an opportunity for VOCA administrators to exchange information, views, and experiences; and provide training and technical assistance on effective program operations. Those applying are strongly encouraged to begin the application process well in advance of the July 13, 2015, deadline.

More Funding Opportunities

Every crime has a victim, but not every victim has a voice within the criminal justice system. Victims often need someone to help them identify and assert their rights, navigate an unfamiliar criminal justice system process, issue a victim impact statement, provide counseling and support, or locate and obtain the services they need to help ease the impact of their victimization. Victim advocates perform a myriad of functions that may include speaking or acting on a victim’s behalf; serving as a liaison between the victim and the court system to minimize the physical, psychological, emotional, and financial effects of the crime on the victim; and working to effect social and system changes.

The following resources provide information on issues related to victim advocacy.


Publications

OVC and OVC-Sponsored Publications

Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States: Fiscal Years 2013-2014 Status Report (July 2015) OVC, Report, 64 pages, NCJ 248967. The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013–2017. This status report identifies progress made by federal agencies during fiscal years 2013-2014 to address the goals, objectives, and the actions identified in the Federal Strategic Action Plan to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the U.S. are identified and have access to the services they need to recover.
PDF
 
Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma DVD (April 2015) OVC, 0 pages, NCJ 239938. This video series addresses the needs of children exposed to crime, abuse, and violence; highlights major issues in child victimization; identifies promising practices for service providers and others working with young victims; and shows how trauma-informed care can help child victims recover to lead healthy, productive lives. Online only companion resource guides accompany each video.
Abstract | HTML
 
2015 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Poster (January 2015) OVC, PS000028. The 2015 NCVRW poster evokes the 2015 theme—"Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims."—and reminds us of the importance of creating a victim response system that is open and accessible to all survivors and victims of crime. The poster highlights the importance of building partnerships throughout our communities to better address all victims’ needs by believing them and offering support and resources regardless of where they disclose their victimization. Everybody plays a role. The poster is available for download in 22" x 28" in color or black & white and can be customized for your organization before printing.
PDF (Color, 22 x 28) | PDF (Black & White, 22 x 28) | HTML (JPG, Color, 22 x 28) | HTML (JPG, Black & White, 22 x 28)
 
2015 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide (January 2015) OVC, 182 pages, NCJ 247813. The 2015 NCVRW Resource Guide, released ahead of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 19 to 25, highlights this year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims. The Guide includes a wide array of user-friendly outreach tools and sample products, a Theme DVD, current statistics on victimization, information on the history of victims’ rights in the United States, and concrete, practical ideas for engaging your community and empowering victims. Hardcopy versions of this year's Guide, which can be ordered through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) at www.ncjrs.gov, include Introductory Materials and NCVRW Resource Guide Artwork.
Abstract | PDF | HTML
 
Identity (ID) Theft Toolkit (2014) OVC-Sponsored, Grant, 2 pages, NCJ 248389. National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network (NITVAN) coalitions across the country each contributed to the creation of this toolkit for victim advocates, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and anyone else involved in assisting victims. In this toolkit, you’ll find guidance on improving and expanding service to identity theft victims, starting a collaborative group in your area, as well as downloadable, ready-to-customize training materials, brochures, and more.
Abstract | HTML
 

OJP Publications

Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report (February 2015) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 551 pages, NCJ 248680. This report documents the Detroit Sexual Assault Action-Research Project, in which a multidisciplinary team looked at the issue of a large number of sexual assault kits (SAKs) that had not been sent to a crime lab for DNA-testing. The team identified the underlying factors that contributed to the issue; developed and evaluated a plan for testing the SAKs; and created and evaluated protocols for notifying victims of the results of the testing. The report also offers practitioner-friendly resources, including how to create victim-notification protocols.
Abstract | PDF
 
Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States (October 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 306 pages, NCJ 248461. This report explores patterns of labor trafficking in the U.S., and found that trafficking occurs in multiple industries, including agriculture, hospitality, construction, and restaurants. The report verified that labor trafficking usually goes unreported, and law enforcement often have difficulty distinguishing labor trafficking from other workplace exploitation. Policy and practice implications of this research for federal and local law enforcement and victims' service agencies are outlined.
Abstract | PDF
 
Improving Human Trafficking Victim Identification-Validation and Dissemination of a Screening Tool (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 455 pages, NCJ 246712. This guide provides users with recommendations on how to build trust with potential victims, maintain confidentiality, and use the tool correctly. When properly used, the tool could give victim service providers, law enforcement and legal, healthcare, and social service providers with a standard means of identifying victims of human trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Screening for Human Trafficking: Guidelines for Administering the Trafficking Victim Identification Tool (TVIT) (June 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 37 pages, NCJ 246713. This tool is designed for victim service providers and other providers to assist in identifying victims of human trafficking. Developed over the last seven years by the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with 11 victim service organizations in California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Washington, this NIJ-funded tool has been validated with a diverse sample of potential victims of trafficking and found reliable in predicting labor and sex trafficking.
Abstract | PDF
 
Practical Implications of Current Intimate Partner Violence Research for Victim Advocates and Service Providers (January 2013) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 260 pages, NCJ 244348. This report expands and enhances the 2009 report titled "Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges" to address the practical implications of current domestic violence research for victim advocates and service providers.
Abstract | PDF
 

Back to Top

Related Resources

OVC Funded Resources

International Rescue Committee (Florida)
The IRC provides assistance to refugees, displaced persons and others fleeing persecution and violent conflict throughout the world. Often one of the first agencies on the scene of an emergency, the IRC delivers critical medical and public health services, food, and shelter. Once a crisis stabilizes, it provides education, training, economic assistance and, if necessary, resettlement assistance.
 
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Human Trafficking
OVC’s human trafficking Web site contains a wide range of information including resources and research from the Federal Government, publications and products from OVC, local and national direct assistance information, and related funding opportunities for victims and survivors of human trafficking, victim service providers, law enforcement, and allied professionals.
 
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
RAINN operates a 24-hour telephone hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) and an Online Hotline for victims of sexual assault. The secure web-based hotline provides a safe, secure, and anonymous place for victims to get help online. RAINN also works to promote education and prevention of sexual assault, compiles and shares links to Legal Resources, including the State Mandatory Regulations regarding children and the elderly.
 
Safe Horizon
Safe Horizon's mission is to provide support, prevent violence, and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families, and communities. Safe Horizon's program to assist victims and survivors of human trafficking helps deliver intensive case management, shelter, legal services, and mental health care to survivors of trafficking.
 

Federal Resources

CrimeSolutions.gov
CrimeSolutions.gov is a searchable online database of evidence-based programs covering a range of justice-related topics, including victim assistance programs; corrections; courts; crime prevention; substance abuse; juveniles; law enforcement; and technology and forensics. The site is a tool to understand, access and integrate scientific evidence about programs into programmatic and policy decisions.
 
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP)
The DEA-VWAP was implemented to ensure the rights of crime victims encountered in DEA investigations are met.
 
Elder Justice Initiative
This site serves as a resource for victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation and their families, practitioners who serve them, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, and researchers seeking to understand and address this silent epidemic plaguing our nation's elders. Victims and family members will find information about how to report and get assistance for victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
 
International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP)
If you believe that you or someone you know has been a victim of international terrorism, help may be available. ITVERP is a program authorized by Congress to reimburse eligible direct victims of acts of international terrorism that occur outside the United States for expenses associated with that victimization.
 
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ): Community Relations Service (CRS)
CRS, the "peacemaker" arm of the U.S. Department of Justice for community conflicts and tensions, provides expert guidance and assistance to community officials and civic leaders to help resolve and prevent racial and ethnic conflict, violence, and civil disorders.
 

Non-Governmental Resources

Casa de Esperanza
This organization provides bilingual advocacy and services to Latina victims of intimate partner violence. Victims may contact the Casa de Esperanza 24-hour crisis line at 651-772-1611.
 
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services
The mission of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services is to empower young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.
 
National Latin@ Network
A project of Casa de Esperanza, the Network provides bilingual information and resources for people working within Latin communities to prevent and eliminate domestic violence. This Web site includes a resource library, public policy updates and action alerts, informative videos, training opportunities, and a blog among other culturally-specific information.
 
National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization
The National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization is committed to preventing, healing and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through treatment, research, education, advocacy and activism.
 
Parents for Megan's Law (PFML)
PFML is a community and victim's rights organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse through the provision of education, advocacy, counseling, victim services, policy and legislative support services.
 

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Web Forum Discussions

Each month the Nation's experts answer your questions about best practices in victim services. Below are upcoming and most recent session discussions in this topic:

On May 5 2015 at 2:00PM, Cris Sullivan, Director of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence and Professor of Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State Univers, and Keri Darling, founder and Director/Trainer of DVAS, Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services, hosted a discussion on Build Your Own Body of Evidence-Based Knowledge

On Apr 22 2015 at 2:00PM, Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children's Alliance, and Rebecca Khalil, J.D., staff attorney with the National Crime Victim Law Institute, hosted a discussion on Child Victims: Providing Effective Rights Enforcement Representation

On Apr 8 2015 at 2:00PM, Ann McCarty, Associate Director of the North County (California) Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center, and Leah Holland, former sexual assault response coordinator and domestic violence victim advocate coordinator, U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, South Korea, hosted a discussion on Providing Appropriate Support for Military Victims of Sexual Assault

On Mar 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Katie Monroe, Senior Advocate for National Partnerships at the Innocence Project, and Karin Ho, brings over 30 years combined experience as a victim advocate in the sexual assault, domestic violence and postconviction corrections field, hosted a discussion on Postconviction Exonerations and Victim Assistance

On Feb 25 2015 at 2:00PM, Jennifer Burkmire, advocate for children and a contract consultant for nonprofit organizations that provide social services, and Cynthia King, President of King & Associates, Inc, hosted a discussion on Developing an Effective Multidisciplinary Team


FAQs

What is the difference between compensation and restitution?
Restitution is court-ordered and compensation is provided by the Victim Compensation Program in each... Read More

How do I add my program/organization to the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services?
Please visit the Get Posted section of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Online Directory of Cri... Read More

What is victim assistance?
Each year, states and territories receive Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds to support community-bas... Read More

What is the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services?
The Online Directory of Crime Victim Services is a Web-enabled, online resource sponsored by the Off... Read More

I am crime victim, how can I get help?
Help in your area is available from your State/Local Victim Compensation and Assistance programs. As... Read More

Back to Top


Funding

FY 2015 National Joint Training Conference for VOCA Victim Assistance and Victim Compensation Administrators (PDF 205 kb)
Deadline: 07/13/2015
One discretionary grant of $175,000 will be awarded to plan and administer the 2016 National Joint Training Conference for VOCA Victim Assistance and Victim Compensation Administrators, a 2.5-day conference that will provide training and technical assistance for Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) administrators, staff, and board members; and facilitate a forum for the presentation of state issues and practices. The conference will employ lectures, panels, workshops, and forums to explore ways to improve the delivery of crime victim services; provide an opportunity for VOCA administrators to exchange information, views, and experiences; and provide training and technical assistance on effective program operations. Those applying are strongly encouraged to begin the application process well in advance of the July 13, 2015, deadline.

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National Calendar of Crime Victim Assistance-Related Events
Upcoming Event(s)
41st National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) Conference
Dallas, TX
08/16/2015-08/19/2015

National Center for Victims of Crime's 2015 National Training Institute
Anaheim, CA
09/09/2015-09/11/2015

Online Directory of Crime Victims Services.