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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

2016 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide (2016) OVC, 108 pages, NCJ 249210.
The 2016 NCVRW Resource Guide, released ahead of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 10 to 16, highlights this year’s theme, Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. The Guide includes user-friendly outreach tools and sample products, information on the history of victims’ rights in the United States, and practical ideas to show how serving victims and building trust restores hope and strengthens communities. The Guide is available in both English and Spanish.
Abstract | PDF (English) | PDF (Spanish) | HTML (English) | HTML (Spanish)
 
Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States: Fiscal Year 2015 Status Report (November 2016) OVC-Sponsored, 84 pages, NCJ 250414.
This status report identifies progress made by federal agencies during fiscal years 2015 to address the goals, objectives, and the actions identified in the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013–2017 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
 
A Healing Journey for Alaska Natives (October 2016) OVC, OVC Videos, NCJ 249906.
This five–video series is designed to educate federal, state, local, and tribal victim service providers, criminal justice professionals, and others who work with Alaska Native victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
HTML
Part Of the OVC Videos Series
 
Achieving Excellence: Model Standards for Serving Victims and Survivors of Crime (August 2016) OVC, 1 pages, NCJ 250080.
This e-publication provides guidelines and recommendations to help victim service providers and program administrators improve the quality and consistency of their response to crime victims. It includes program standards for guidelines, policies, and procedures that victim-serving organizations should have in place; competency standards for providers’ general attitudes, knowledge, and skills; and ethical standards for addressing a range of issues that may occur during daily service provision.
Abstract | HTML
 
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program Development and Operation Guide (August 2016) OVC, 2 pages, NCJ 250082.
This Guide serves as a blueprint to improve your SANE program and ensure that all sexual assault victims receive the highest standard of patient-centered care.
Abstract | HTML
 

OJP Publications

Examining Criminal Justice Responses to and Help-Seeking Patterns of Sexual Violence Survivors With Disabilities (June 2016) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 87 pages, NCJ 250196.
The goal of this study used is to better understand the criminal justice experience of persons with disabilities that report a sexual assault or rape to the authorities. Results suggest that current criminal justice structures are not sufficient to provide support for one of the highest-risk adult populations for sexual assault and victimization in the U.S.
Abstract | PDF
 
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
 
Evaluation of Services for Domestic Minor Victims of Human Trafficking (August 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 115 pages, NCJ 248578.
This primary goals of this evaluation were documenting program implementation of the three OVC funded programs, identify promising practices for service delivery programs, and informing delivery of current and future efforts to serve victims of sex and labor trafficking of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents under the age of 18.
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
 

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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.


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 Sep 27 2016 at 2:00PM, Krista Flannigan, J.D., Director, Institute for Crime Victim Research & Policy at Florida State University, and Karen Thomas, President of the Connections Training Group, LLC, hosted a discussion on Serving Victims of Mass Violence

On Sep 14 2016 at 2:00PM, Donna Barry, APN, FN-CSA, DNP, has been the Director of the University Health Center at Montclair State University, and Anthony Walker, former Chief of Police for Norfolk State University, hosted a discussion on Campus Services for Victims of Sexual Assault

On Jul 20 2016 at 2:00PM, Merry O'Brien, M.S.W., the Network for Victim Recovery of DC’s Identity Theft Assistance, and Paula Pierce, J.D., former Manager of Hotline Services for Texas Legal Services Center, hosted a discussion on Serving Victims of Financial Fraud and Fraud Prevention

On Jul 13 2016 at 2:00PM, Pamela Todd, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Ray of Hope Foster Care, Inc.,, and Diane Payne, owner of Justice for Native Children Consulting, hosted a discussion on Support and Services for Drug-Endangered Children

On Jun 22 2016 at 2:00PM, Sid Jordan, J.D., consultant with the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence (CEGV) in King County, Washington, hosted a discussion on Integrating the Needs of LGBTQ Victims into Mainstream Victim Services

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 a court action that requires perpetrators to make financial payments to their victims... Read More

How do I add my program/organization to the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services?
Visit the Get Posted section of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Online Directory of Crime Vict... 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 a 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 2017 Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program for Crime Victim Compensation and Assistance (PDF 290 kb)
Deadline: Open
The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP) is a mechanism by which the Director of OVC may award supplemental crime victim compensation and assistance to respond to an act of terrorism or mass criminal violence. The criminal act has to be of sufficient magnitude that it overwhelms the affected jurisdiction’s or program’s ability to respond to the event. This is a restricted invitation because the program is intended to respond to specific cases of terrorism and mass violence. Only after OVC has consulted with an eligible organization can an application be submitted.

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

2016 National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Resource Guide (2016) OVC, 108 pages, NCJ 249210. The 2016 NCVRW Resource Guide, released ahead of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 10 to 16, highlights this year’s theme, Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. The Guide includes user-friendly outreach tools and sample products, information on the history of victims’ rights in the United States, and practical ideas to show how serving victims and building trust restores hope and strengthens communities. The Guide is available in both English and Spanish.
Abstract | PDF (English) | PDF (Spanish) | HTML (English) | HTML (Spanish)
 
Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States: Fiscal Year 2015 Status Report (November 2016) OVC-Sponsored, 84 pages, NCJ 250414. This status report identifies progress made by federal agencies during fiscal years 2015 to address the goals, objectives, and the actions identified in the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013–2017 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
 
A Healing Journey for Alaska Natives (October 2016) OVC, OVC Videos, NCJ 249906. This five–video series is designed to educate federal, state, local, and tribal victim service providers, criminal justice professionals, and others who work with Alaska Native victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
HTML
Part Of the OVC Videos Series
 
Achieving Excellence: Model Standards for Serving Victims and Survivors of Crime (August 2016) OVC, 1 pages, NCJ 250080. This e-publication provides guidelines and recommendations to help victim service providers and program administrators improve the quality and consistency of their response to crime victims. It includes program standards for guidelines, policies, and procedures that victim-serving organizations should have in place; competency standards for providers’ general attitudes, knowledge, and skills; and ethical standards for addressing a range of issues that may occur during daily service provision.
Abstract | HTML
 
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program Development and Operation Guide (August 2016) OVC, 2 pages, NCJ 250082. This Guide serves as a blueprint to improve your SANE program and ensure that all sexual assault victims receive the highest standard of patient-centered care.
Abstract | HTML
 

OJP Publications

Examining Criminal Justice Responses to and Help-Seeking Patterns of Sexual Violence Survivors With Disabilities (June 2016) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 87 pages, NCJ 250196. The goal of this study used is to better understand the criminal justice experience of persons with disabilities that report a sexual assault or rape to the authorities. Results suggest that current criminal justice structures are not sufficient to provide support for one of the highest-risk adult populations for sexual assault and victimization in the U.S.
Abstract | PDF
 
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
 
Evaluation of Services for Domestic Minor Victims of Human Trafficking (August 2014) NIJ-Sponsored, Grant, 115 pages, NCJ 248578. This primary goals of this evaluation were documenting program implementation of the three OVC funded programs, identify promising practices for service delivery programs, and informing delivery of current and future efforts to serve victims of sex and labor trafficking of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents under the age of 18.
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
 

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Related Resources

OVC Funded Resources

Mobile Apps Compiled by OVC
This section of the OVC site contains a list of free apps, created by government agencies and non-profit organizations, that provide information and resources about various types of victimization.
 
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

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNS)
The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to engage in service that addresses the Nation's educational, public safety, environmental, and other human needs to achieve direct and demonstrable results and to encourage all Americans to engage in such service. In doing so, the corporation will foster civic responsibility, strengthen the ties that bind us together as a people, and provide educational opportunity for those who make a substantial commitment to service.
 
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.
 
National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
Sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs, NCJRS offers information on victimology and victim assistance, criminal justice, juvenile justice, information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide. NCJRS supplies the victim services field with resources, publications, and program information. The NCJRS library collection includes more than 30,000 resources relevant to the field.
 
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has been reinstated and will provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes. On January 2, 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-347) which expands the pool of applicants eligible for the Fund to include individuals who experienced injuries associated with the attacks or subsequent debris removal. The VCF site allows users to obtain a list of the kinds of documents and information needed in order to process claims; register for the VCF online, the first step in submitting your claim; fill out an online eligibility form to determine VCF eligibility; submit a claim online; and review Frequently Asked Questions.
 
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

Helping And Lending Outreach Support (HALOS)
HALOS's mission is to provide resources and special opportunities to abused and neglected children and their caregivers through partnerships with faith-based and other community organizations. HALOS matches community donations to the needs of foster children and children cared for in the homes of family members other than their parents. OVC produced a toolkit available at www.ovc.gov/halos which offers lessons learned and suggests strategies for establishing programs like HALOS wherever foster families and relatives need additional support for the children in their care.
 
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
This organization provides leadership to end/reduce domestic violence in the African-American community. The site features newsletters, hotline numbers, information about advocate forums, and other print and electronic resources.
 
International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)
IFSW is a global organization striving for social justice, human rights and social development through social work, best practices and international cooperation between social workers and their professional organizations.
 
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) TTY: 1-800-787-3224 Staff provide callers with crisis intervention, information about domestic violence, and referrals to local programs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Telephone assistance is available in many languages, including Spanish.
 
National Multicultural Institute (NMCI)
NMCI works with individuals, organizations, and communities to facilitate personal and systemic change in order to build an inclusive society that is strengthened and empowered by its diversity.
 

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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 Sep 27 2016 at 2:00PM, Krista Flannigan, J.D., Director, Institute for Crime Victim Research & Policy at Florida State University, and Karen Thomas, President of the Connections Training Group, LLC, hosted a discussion on Serving Victims of Mass Violence

On Sep 14 2016 at 2:00PM, Donna Barry, APN, FN-CSA, DNP, has been the Director of the University Health Center at Montclair State University, and Anthony Walker, former Chief of Police for Norfolk State University, hosted a discussion on Campus Services for Victims of Sexual Assault

On Jul 20 2016 at 2:00PM, Merry O'Brien, M.S.W., the Network for Victim Recovery of DC’s Identity Theft Assistance, and Paula Pierce, J.D., former Manager of Hotline Services for Texas Legal Services Center, hosted a discussion on Serving Victims of Financial Fraud and Fraud Prevention

On Jul 13 2016 at 2:00PM, Pamela Todd, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Ray of Hope Foster Care, Inc.,, and Diane Payne, owner of Justice for Native Children Consulting, hosted a discussion on Support and Services for Drug-Endangered Children

On Jun 22 2016 at 2:00PM, Sid Jordan, J.D., consultant with the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence (CEGV) in King County, Washington, hosted a discussion on Integrating the Needs of LGBTQ Victims into Mainstream Victim Services


FAQs

What is the difference between compensation and restitution?
Restitution is a court action that requires perpetrators to make financial payments to their victims... Read More

How do I add my program/organization to the Online Directory of Crime Victim Services?
Visit the Get Posted section of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Online Directory of Crime Vict... 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 a 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 2017 Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program for Crime Victim Compensation and Assistance (PDF 290 kb)
Deadline: Open
The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP) is a mechanism by which the Director of OVC may award supplemental crime victim compensation and assistance to respond to an act of terrorism or mass criminal violence. The criminal act has to be of sufficient magnitude that it overwhelms the affected jurisdiction’s or program’s ability to respond to the event. This is a restricted invitation because the program is intended to respond to specific cases of terrorism and mass violence. Only after OVC has consulted with an eligible organization can an application be submitted.

Back to Top


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National Calendar of Crime Victim Assistance-Related Events
Upcoming Event(s)
15th National Indian Nations Conference: Justice for Victims of Crime
Palm Springs, CA
12/08/2016-12/10/2016

Online Directory of Crime Victims Services.