Empowering Victims to Triumph Over Tragedy
Dan Levey, Debra Puglisi Sharp  -  2008/11/5
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
When working with parents of a murdered child, there are times it appears the death of one child has lead the parent(s) to ignore the needs of the surviving children. First, how should this be addressed to the parent(s) and second, what services can be made available to the surviving, minor siblings of the victim. While POMC is a great support for adults, it does not appear to be a good referral source for younger (minor) siblings of murder victims.
 
1.  Dan Levey
 When working with parents of a murdered child, there are times it appears the death of one child has lead the parent(s) to ignore the needs of the surviving children. First, how should this be addressed to the parent(s) and second, what services can be made available to the surviving, minor siblings of the victim. While POMC is a great support for adults, it does not appear to be a good referral source for younger (minor) siblings of murder victims. First there are numerous organizations that deal strictly with children's grief. Fernside in Ohio and the Dougy Center in Oregon and I know others do exists around the country, thus I would strongly suggest that the parents get the children into that type of support. They can also be able to give referrals. Depending on the age of the sibling i.e. if they are older, it is important to let them know what murder leaves behind when it comes to parents? Educate them on how Mom and Dad often seem to either ignore their children's grief or sometimes seem to get over protective. Also, parents often idolize the decease child. Explain that this is all normal and will eventually work out as they work through their grief. Education about their parents aftermath is extremely important otherwise the remaining siblings will invent their own answers, i.e. it should have been me, I wonder if mom and dad would miss me as much. With education, this is less likely to happen, or won't be as severe. Often it will be the surviving children that seem to take over as the adults and that sometimes parents become childlike. Encourage them to use their good friends as much as possible to talk to, etc. Also, it is important to keep communication open by providing siblings with permission and encouragement to talk to their parents about their feelings. So I could go on and on, but bottom line I think is Education regarding parents grief, securing their support system (friends, teachers, etc.), encouraging open communication with their parents, and referrals to a group that specializes in children, young adults grief. Also, if they are old enough to articulate their feelings they can always use POMC National to provide some of that education and support by phone, but I would not refer them to a chapter for that education and support.Two places POMC refers families with grieving children is The Dougy Center www.dougy.org and Fernside www.fernside.org - both for grieving children.
 
 
How do you help victims understand that exercising their rights through the criminal justice system (e.g. appearing in court) as a positive thing in a system that is often protracted and delayed trials, etc.reinforce the adage that the wheels of justice grind slowly?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 I like to explain to survivors/victims that they do have rights and why they are important--that lady justice is blind folded and we think that is for objectivity and fairness and part of that is victims do have rights. They allow the victim to be involved, included and informed and I explain that to victims. You can explain it gives them a voice and I sometimes contrast what it was like BEFORE victims rights---victims sequestered outside the courtroom while the defendant and his family are quietly ushered into the court, victims were not made aware of what the plea deal was until they heard it in court, victims did not have a right at one time to tell the judge how the crime effected them. I also explain that in my experience it is important (of course if they want) to be present at every court proceeding, to let the judge, defendant, prosecutor, defense atty, bailiff, etc. know that you will be there and that you as a victim/survivor are going to be part of the system and not sit quietly by - victims rights allows victims to have a voice. In fact, sometimes like here in Arizona, where a victim has a right to a speedy trial it can play a role in moving cases along - often times the court will ask the victims if they are ok when scheduling the new court date. Victims Rights are not mere words written on pieces of paper but literally were born out of the result of first hand experiences of injustice. In some states we have victim legal clinics where attorneys can go in on behalf of victims to help them assert and protect their rights.
 
 
Would you recommend that someone investigate somatic (bodywork) therapies, if they're not emotionally ready for talk therapy?
 
1.  ds
 You must be careful in this area. I have been very cautious when a victim approaches me to talk. Some like touch while others prefer distance. Personally I found somatic therapies to be more helpful after talk therapy. I was not comfortable with touch, having been repeatedly raped. Every victim is different. My suggestion is a thorough assessment, asking the victim how he or she feels about touch and alternative therapies.
 
2.  Dan Levey
 I have not had a whole lot of experience with Somatic therapies but have talked to others and I have heard it can work. I have been told maybe its not the best to use in the beginning of therapy. I asked a friend of mine who is a nationally known grief counselor, author, and advocate, Janice Harris Lord, and she said that for her Somatic therapy has helped some of her clients who are in a stuck place with a specific imagery or specific memories that surface. However, we also need to be sure to explain clearly what the therapy is to the victims and be sure not to scare them as I am sure these therapies can be very powerful. I guess the timing has to be right and the victim needs to be ready and want the experience. This may not be a therapy you want to start with if the victim can't yet talk about the experience - maybe just let what comes first (maybe only tears) and maybe a little later introduce the bodywork.
 
 
As service providers, how do we empower victims without overwhelming them?
 
1.  Blanca Cornejo
 Listening to victim it is very important. It is very important not to made a lot of questions at once, that overwhelm clients. It is very important to made pauses when you are asking questions or answering client questions.Open ended questions are the best in order for client to feel more supported and not overwhelmed sharing or asking your questions.
 
2.  ds
 I apologize. I had previously given the wrong answer to this question. I would like to further say that victims tend to lose their sense of concentration and cannot focus on the input of too much information. For me, I was only capable of dealing with one issue at a time. You can empower a victim by first making sure that he or she feels safe. Make sure that you meet in a safe, comfortable area and ask if the victim would like to have a support person present. I needed a friend with me to remind me of what was said when I was interrogated by the police. I truly do not remember much of the interview. You will overwhelm a victim if he or she is in physical pain and you are giving information that they cannot possibly process. Once you have gained the trust of your victim, he or she will hopefully feel confident enough to share details of the victimization. Allow enough time for your meeting so that the victim does not feel rushes or that he or she is taking too much of your time. If a victim appears to become more upset, offer a break in your session. At the same time, validate the victim's feelings and remain supportive.
 
3.  Dan Levey
 In my experience every victim of course is different and everyone deals with victimization differently. I think the best way is to avail opportunities for victimssurvivors (I use that term interchangeably) to use their experience to make a difference. Sometimes that may be to make a difference in their own case e.g. by speaking to the court, or helping others by volunteering to helpwork with victims, to help change a law or policy, etc... I have had many victims/survivors that I was unable to do anything about what had already occurred to them but what I could avail was that sometimes we can change the lawsystem for the next family/person that comes along. Even if they are unable to change the law or policy it can be for some therapeutic to try and to let their voice be heard. Another way to empower victims could be maybe suggesting speaking as part of a victim impact panel, sharing their experience with media to do a story to raise awareness, speak to a school or university. I think it is important to remember each victim/survivors moves at their own pace - for me it is always important to encourage victims to constructively be their own advocate and that does not mean in anyway to diminish the important role that victim advocates play (I am one) I simply think at the end of the day its their only case and sometimes picking up the phone and calling a Governor, Mayor, Senator, etc. is empowering. I could go on and on on this one. I am always reminded of the words my friend and colleague Steve Twist said while testifying in front of the U.S. Senate on the need for a Constitutional Amendment for Victims of Crime - Indeed the law and the culture are hard to change, and so they should be; critics are always heard to counsel delay, to trade on doubts and fears, to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Perhaps some would prefer it if crime victims just remained invisible. Perhaps we are so numbed by decades of crime and violence we simply choose to look away, to pass by on the other side of the road. But in America, when confronted with great injustice, great hope abides. Indeed, Steve is right when injustice exists we need to give victims support, encouragement, and great hope that they can make a difference.
 
 
How do we help victims gain a sense of power while recovering from a traumatic event?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 I think listening to victims is really important and validating their feelingsensuring them that they are not going crazy or alone and refer them to a good trained traumatic grief event counselor. Often times victims/survivors want to know what comes next and gain a sense of control so again here providing information and listening to what they need or wanting is important. To the extent possible providing information regarding the crime as that can be really important as it is empowering. I would recommend possibly a support group like Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc, MADD, Sexual Assault Centers, etc. where they may be able to find talking to others who have suffered similar crimes may help gain a sense of power. Also I think exercising their victims rights is very empowering e.g. telling the court how the crime effected them, why they don't like the plea, etc. I also think like in Question #1 having the ability to say this happened to me but I am going to fight to change the law, policy, system in a constructive way (not by banging on doors saying it is my way or no way) but by building alliances with other victims/survivors, local and state legislators, media, etc.
 
2.  ds
 By carefully listening to what a victim's needs are. Depending upon the time frame of the victimization, a victim's needs will vary. I felt powerless initially during my initial forensic examination. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners then stepped in and were able to give me back some control by identifying with my needs and showing compassion, explaining what they needed to do to help me. They also gave me choices. Victim Service providers help victims gain a sense of power by informing and educating. Never assume that a victim is aware of his or her rights. Be genuine and offer support without being judgmental or blaming. There are some whose body language shut down a victim. Help your victim find the support system best for him or her. Always follow up - Power does not come until physical and emotional healing begins.
 
 
Ms. Sharp, I am victim liaison here in Fort Worth Texas and I recently worked with a mother and father who's son was murdered. They are both still upset even though this has been 5 years ago. how can I help the father work thru his anger?
 
1.  ds
 I cannot even imagine the loss of a child. It is normal for them to be upset, even after five years. However, if they are not able to continue with their activities of daily living, it is necessary to refer them for counseling. I am not familiar with the resources in Texas, however, it does sound like further therapy is advisable. As far as the father's anger is concerned, there are therapists that can help him channel this anger. Perhaps a support group with other parents who have similar feelings.
 
 
Secondary victims of Fatal DUI's and Homicide are encouraged to seek counseling. Secondary victims of surviving victims (Assault, Attempted Murder and Armed Robbery)are so often ignored by the CJ System, Prosecutors and friends of the victims. They do not feel comfortable admitting that they are experiencing fear, depression, rage, among other things. Seldom are they even referred to our agency. How can be best educate Victim Witness Advocates, CJ and D.A.'s to respect these secondary victims and help them seek counseling, or do agree that they also need help?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 No doubt that this group of victims are underserved and I have often run into the same problem of who do I refer secondary victims of crimes such as Assault, Attempted Murder and Armed Robbery. I think working with the local DA association, law enforcement associations, and victim service organizations to better educate them on the needs of secondary crime victims and the need for services for this group. Another challenge is to get these secondary victims status as legal crime victims so they can be entitled to services. I think it takes survivors of secondary violence and their advocates to raise the issues facing this population to the policy makers
 
 
Are there any specific resources (i.e. publications, Web sites, etc) regarding empowering victims that you would suggest advocates incorporate into their services?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 Yes, I always encourage advocates to join list serves. Anne Seymour has a list serve that goes out every Monday. You should email Anne at annesey@atlantech.net to find out how to sign up. Also the National Center for Victims of Crime is starting a listserve. Anne Seymour also is the editor of the Crime Victim Report which is a great publication. In addition, OVC frequently sends out briefs to the field which are very helpful.If you are talking about specific sites for victims there are of course many--and that would depend on what the victim is looking for.
 
 
Outside of counseling, can you make any suggestions to help a victim process a traumatic event?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 I think that you can constructively avail some other opportunities for the victim to not necessarily go to counseling but get involved in other activities. I always found it helps to find a passion - that can be deciding to spend more time with your family, exercise, work with a local victims group, volunteer with kidssomething that might help them move from victim to survivor. However, I don't know of any magic potion and everyone moves at their own pace. As an advocate though I understand you have other duties and victims to work with.
 
2.  Kelly
 What do you do as an Advocate when the victim does not want to remove themselves from that victim role and they are constantly in your office as the victim? There is a real reason or case, but they desperately need the counseling so that they can learn how to see that a lifestyle or group of aquaintences are the cause for their repeated victimization.
 
3.  Dan Levey
 I think someties talking to others in a less formal setting such as in a support group setting can help. Sometimes journaling, music therapy, exercise can all help with the aftermath of a traumatic event.
 
4.  ds
 There are victims who prefer not to embrace counseling. Victim advocates are truly capable of helping a victim and there are also support groups available. Some victims prefer clergy members. It is such a personal choice. It is also necessary to evaluate the victim's support system at home. The key is to have someone for that victim to trust, someone who will listen to his or her story.
 
 
How do explain the concept of empowerment to other partners within the criminal justice system? I often find that our partners don't understand why as victim advocates we aren't more influential in the victim's decision making processes.
 
1.  Dan Levey
 I try and explain to others that the only person that does not chose to be involved in the Criminal Justice System in the crime victim. Others such as Judges, Prosecutors, Probation, Corrections, etc... need and in my experience do understand that victims have rights and part of these rights are the right to be heard, to give input, to confer and to literally stand in court and say how they feel e.g. change of plea or sentencing. Also, our partners sometimes need to hear firsthand the experiences of victims/survivors. What I have done in Arizona is participated in the Judges Conference by having a victim panel speak to judges (including a judge who was a victim), New Judge Orientation, and panels of victims for probation and parole, for law enforcement etc... I think if you can set up trainings for professionals in the CJS it is effective. As far as influencing the decisions of victims, I find that survivors/victims can make reasonable choices if given all the information and I don't think as advocates we should be influencing victims to make decisions they don't want to make. Again, here I think the key is providing victims the options and the information and encourage them to make the decision as that is empowerment.
 
2.  ds
 I feel your frustration. My only answer to you, as a victim, is that we continue the training sessions to inform and educate our partners in the role of a victim's advocate. A victim should make his or her own decisions with, of course, the assistance of the advocate. My largest obstacle was the criminal justice system.
 
 
When working with adult survivors of child sexual abuse, what is the best way to empower them and to help them work through reocurring flashbacks/nightmares?
 
1.  ds
 Most of the adult survivors I have talked with have had many years of unresolved pain, as well as anger, etc. This can be the most difficult victim to help, as they have had these flashbacks and nightmares for many years. Cognitive behavior therapy worked for me. A therapist trained in PTSD would be the best person to help in this case.
 
 
Thanks to both of you heroic friends and role models for all you do for all of us! I would love to hear you address what you think the role of activism on a cause related to their victimization can mean to victims and their healing.
 
1.  Dan Levey
 Thanks for your nice comment. For myself and I know for many other victims/survivors that I have met it is the crime that brings us to the table. I can have all the degrees, awards, have a dream job, etc. but frankly I think the biggest thing that gives survivors/victims credibility is we have been thru it or are still going thru it and always will be. My work to help victims/survivors is dedicated in memory of my beloved brother Howard and I feel somewhat fortunate that I have been able to use my work as part of my healing. I could not go out and seek my own justice, so for me it was therapeutic to use my anger, my loss, my sadness, my passion, my love in another way. I think the role of activism for a victim/survivor on a cause related to victimization can have incredible value in their healing as it did in mine. For me being able to use activism and bring honor to the victims/survivors who are not able to for whatever reason to champion our great cause gives me great satisfaction. To maybe know if only for a minute that I have maybe helped ease the journey of someone else brings honor to my brother and the thought that maybe something good will come from this horrific tragedy. My inspiration is seared by the memories of the hundreds if not thousands of victims/survivors stories, struggles, and tears of whom I have had the honor to work with over the years and of course by the murder of my own brother, Howard. I will never forget seeing and hearing the uncontrollable cries of my parents and that of the rest of my family after the doctors pronounced my brother dead - I will never forget crying myself to sleep wondering does anyone else care - I will never forget the pain that should never been seen by anyone, and to not get our victim rights, having to using all my leave time at work to attend court, to paying an exuberant amount for a police report, to not always being treated with dignity and respect, etc. and vowing someday I am going to fight to change the system so it might be a little better for unfortunately the next person. I like to say these were the unfortunate cards I was dealt in life, but you know what I am going to play them.
 
2.  ds
 It can promote their healing by becoming active in a cause related to their victimization. If you have a victim willing to participate in legislation or related work to help in victim services, I believe it is your duty to encourage him or her to do what is necessary. It has certainly given me a purpose in life. I would feel empty if I was not helping victims believe that they, too, can survive and live a normal life.
 
 
What mental health programs or techniques have been utilized for multicultural populations who are co-victims of crime?
 
1.  ds
 I apologize for not having the right answer for you. Like Dan, I do not work in the mental health field. However, I was helped by our State's Victims Compensation Board. That would be a great start. Also, an additional agency that may provide information in this area is the National Organization for Victim Assistance. This is a national nonprofit organization that promotes rights and services for victims of crime and crisis everywhere. Their web site is www.trynova.org and telephone number is 1-800-TRY-NOVA. They should have resource information for the multicultural population of crime victims as well as for the co-victims. I thank you for your question, as treating the co-victim is just as essential as treating any victim.
 
2.  Dan Levey
 I don't work in the mental health field so this is really tough for me to know. I suggest you contact possibly the National Center for Victims of Crime and possibly they would know of some resources for this specific area. I would also think most crime victim compensation programs would have a list of mental health counselors.
 
 
In terms of Trauma Informed Care from a community based perspective, do you believe it's important to ALWAYS provide a safe space in which you allow the victim to talk about their experience if they chose to (as long as the confidentiality statement has been mentioned ahead of time)?...Similar to talk therapy but not because the CBO staff may not be a professional therapist...There is a large youth population struggling w trauma/PTSD (although not formally diagnosed).Youth may have trusting relationships w teachers/youth/streetworkers so would it be healthy/healing for them to share their traumatic experiences?
 
1.  ds
 I agree with Dan's reply. A victim should always feel safe when talking about their traumatic experience. Ask your victim where that safe place might be. Every victim has different needs and I think the system often forgets that. OVC trainings have made great strides to inform and educate victim service providers on how to better approach victims and make them feel safe. I encourage you to take advantage of these training sessions. As far as sharing our own traumatic experiences, you must be careful about this. In a one-on-one session, the focus must be on the victim. You should never bring in your stuff as much as you think it could help. I am not a counselor, but my advice would be to maintain a supportive role. Make the necessary referrals and always let your victim know that he or she is not alone.
 
2.  Dan Levey
 I do think victims need to feel safe and be in a safe environment when talking about their experience. However what is a safe environment? For some victims it might be talking to others in a public setting or meeting privately with someone one on one. I dont have a clinical background, but from a purely advocate position I typically go by what is victim driven - in other words what does the victims want
 
 
I work with victims of gun violence in an urban setting where "snitching" is frowned upon. How do we empower victims to understand that if criminals go unchecked they are free to victimize someone else?
 
1.  Debra Sharp
 Doris - I wanted to pass on additional resource information I obtained today. In DE, we have adopted crime tip texting which allows witnesses to stay anonymous, avoiding snitch stigma. Text-A-Tip is designed to give officers useful information in real time because the messages are monitored 24 hours a day. Police realize that young people are reluctant to talk to police, fearing retaliation from the defendants. The system is anonymous because it works through a third party vendor, Citizen Observer, The Web based company which receives the tips and relays them to the department using a unique code number. That code shields the tipster's identity and cell phone number, but gives the officer the ability to respond to the tipster. It is important to inform and educate the people who use the crime-tip texting that the system is no substitute for calling 911 in an emergency. Perhaps a state grant could help facilitate the system in your area. Hope this helps!
 
2.  Dan Levey
 I think that we can try and I am sure you do explain they are not snitches but heroes and that what happened them could happen to someone else. I know this is easier said then done. It's about doing the right thing and ensuring that no one is above the law--I've worked on cases that were gang related and the victims were very fearful of testifying...ultimately it was because they did not want anyone else to go thru what they did but it took a while. I certainly don't have the answer on this one.
 
3.  S
 As someone that has worked in a similar setting-it is hard to affect change UNLESS advocates/police,etc work in partnership to maintain the safety of these witnesses. In a perfect world this wld be ideal, but there isnt enough money to protect the overwhelming number of potential (snitches) witnesses. Until we arise at a realistic solution in which the witness is protected and feels SAFE, then this will not change.I'm confident they sincerely want to help but if their lives are at stake,most will NOT come forward...We need creative, cost effective solutions so we can move forward. Ideas?
 
4.  ds
 That is certainly a difficult task. The first thing you need to do is to make the victim feel safe. From conversations I have had, that has been the utmost fear - revictimization. Education is important, letting them know that their assailant will offend again. It may be empowering to them to let him or her know that they can make a difference by stopping the violence by giving the essential information to prevent another person from becoming a victim. This is not my field of expertise, but I can identify with a victim's fear. Good luck!
 
 
It is sometimes difficult to empower those victims who live on the Indian reservations due to lack of resources or lack of transportation to get to the resources in another town. How do you suggest giving those victims hope/empowerment that they will receive the counseling, compensation, etc. when they are used to having to provide on their own?
 
1.  Native advocate
 I disagree, as a provider to natives it is almost impossible to empower them using services outside the native community. They are not afforded culturally specific services and therefore are reluctant to utilize non-native services. If we are to empower native victims it must be through native specific programs offered in their own community.
 
2.  Dan Levey
 I know OVC has made great strides in trying to bring more services to Indian reservations with things like; The Federal Crime Victims Emergency Services Fund administered by OVC can maybe help as well as various grant opportunities that might help bring those services closer. I think encouraging victims/survivors on the reservation that help is available that people do care and they are not alone. Also I believe that OVC will hold a Web Forum in Nov on Serving Sexual Violence Victims in Native American Communities and they will probably have some ideas as well.
 
3.  Dan Levey
 Encouraging victims to seek services in another town can be frustrating but if you reassure them that they are not alone and that services do exist even if it means going to another town to receive them. You can explain that victim compensation is there to assist and that is paid by offenders via VOCA and that is specifically was set up for victims.
 
 
When working with victims separate from their own case within the criminal justice system, how can we encourage and support victims to be effective advocates? How can we assist them in using their experience to inform a broader perspective that could be useful in advocacy or policy development?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 For me personally, it came from within myself after seeing the injustices my family suffered after we were thrust into the criminal justice system. Again, for me it was others such as our now Governor Janet Napolitano who 12 years ago when she was U.S. Attorney for Arizona sat down with me and just listened to me - validated I was not going crazy and I was not alone and told me that we can work to make the system better. The experiences of victims of crime are the basis for us improving the system and victims/survivors who become advocates can use those experiences to help train others in the CJS and by using their experiences in their own work as advocates. You can encourage victims by reminding them they have a voice an important voice that many people do want to hear from. When a victim of crime calls up his State or Federal rep they have a voice, when victim advocates can go to court observe and support victims they have a voice, when polices are being developed they have a voice. I recommend also developing crime victim advisory committees so that you can first hand hear from victims and victim organization what their needs out and work together. Also encourage victims to join other committees or work-groups that meet on policy issues regarding courts, probation and prosecutors/victims should have a seat at the table on all committees that touches victims. I am not sure if you are talking about victims becoming advocates in a system based system-but that is what I did. I worked at first at the Arizona Attorney Generals Office as an advocate there I used my personal experience to inform others of the plight of victims. For example, I remember sometimes not always getting my calls returned promptly in our case - as an advocate I remember what that was like and vowed to return every call to a victim prior to when I leave every day even if it is to say I have no news. I think encouragement is the biggest thing you can offer to assit them in using their experience. People do listen when victims talkthe media, the legislature, the courts, etc.
 
2.  ds
 In my case, a message was given to me that my ability to survive a traumatic event could be inspirational to other victims. Once I was given the opportunity to share my story with a large group, I became empowered by my audience. With your victims, give them opportunities to turn their lemon into lemonade as I have done. Some of the best advocates I have met are victims themselves.
 
 
As a Patrol Officer we are usually involved with the situation. What can we do on scene to psychologically help Victims? AND Recommendation when it comes to Notifications to Secondary Victims.
 
1.  Dan Levey
 By tool-kit I simply meant use all the resouces that you have available...i.e crisis worker, advocate.
 
2.  Linda O
 Where can I find the toolkit?
 
3.  Dan Levey
 I suggest using the tools in the toolbox - if you have an on-scene crisis team utilize them to help sit and provide resources to the victims and then if you have a victim advocate at your department make sure they are in the loop. I think the most important thing is not to be judgmental to understand that while you may rolled up on a thousand crime scenes for the victims and survivors it is often the first time something like this has ever happened. Listen to the victims, ensure they know they have rights, provide appropriate referrals, to the extent possible if appropriate let them know you are committed to solving the crime, let them know what comes next. I suggest for secondary notification you work with maybe your local sexual assault centeradvocacy group to obtain best practices or contact the National Center for Victims of Crime at (1-800-394-2255) or Contact the National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc at 1-888-818-POMC and they can provide you with best practices for notification. The information is just to voluminous and hopefully your department provides trainings on deathsecondary notification. Also Bill Jenkins at www.willsworld.com or wbjpress@aol.com puts on trainings on death notification - he is a survivor if you are interested. TTAC funding is often available for these types of programs and workshops.You can look around for trainings that may be offered near you. Mothers Against Drunk Driving offers very effective Death Notification trainings in many states as does Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc. If your state has a Victim Assistance Academy andor an annual victim assistance conference, ask planners to include this as a seminar topic
 
4.  ds
 I would like to address the first part of your question. As an officer, victims may be more fearful and less likely to give information. Being nonjudgmental is important. Make your victim feel safe. Ask who you might call to be with your victim so that he or she is not alone.
 
 
What would you say is the most important thing that a victim service provider can offer to a victim of violent crime?
 
1.  Dan Levey
 Its really hard to pick out one thing that is most important. There are many different agencies, private and public, that will provide assistance to victims of crime but I think one of the most important things for an advocate is support and be a good listener. I think that victim advocates play a critical role in ensuring that victims feel they are part of the system. Taking time to listen even if it something we have heard beforefor the victim/survivor an advocate can sometimes be someone they can just talk to and while I know that we all have large case loads we need to ensure that victims are always treated with dignity and respect. I think information is very important and being able to act as a liaison between law enforcement andor prosecutors office is critical. Advocates help give victims an important voice - In addition for Victim advocates should be able to provide support, resources, an understanding of the process of victimization and trauma recovery. It really depends on what type of agency you work for as well as to what specific area might be of most importance to a victim of violent crime. Crisis intervention, Court advocacy, Ongoing support and follow up in the aftermath of the criminal victimization, victim compensation, all are very important as well.
 
2.  ds
 The most important thing for me was a person who would truly listen without being judgmental. You first need to gain the victim's trust and assure him or her that you will be there. Let them know that if you cannot help, you will find someone that can. Listen to that person in a safe, comfortable environment. Do not rush the conversation and let the victim know that it is okay to show emotion. Always follow up.
 
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