Being the victim of a crime can cause both long and short-term trauma. A victim has often experienced depression, grief, fear, depression, and even guilt. They may also need to deal with medical bills, the legal process, and missed work, among other issues.
What is a Victim Advocate?
Victim advocacy is a vital field, and it’s rewarding if you want to help people overcome trauma. You will be helping them deal with the fallout, find justice, and return to their normal lives. As a victim advocate, you might work for a non-profit group dedicated to helping these people or a police department. Both courts and legal offices employ advocates, and you could work for the government, depending on the organization. You should be prepared for a high-stress job because the people you will be helping often experience terrible crimes. The results often stay with them for years to come. You must have the mental and emotional strength to be exposed to these things.
Training and Education
Many organizations require advocates to have a bachelor’s degree, although graduate training is often preferred. Fields such as criminal justice, social work, and psychology are all good ones. By getting a four-year degree, you’ll be equipped to succeed. If this career field interests you, it’s a good idea to volunteer before going to college. An internet search may help you find organizations in your area. Because a degree is required for the job, it’s a good idea to speak with a career counselor about your options. The type of advocacy you are interested in will determine the best degree.
Many young people struggle with paying for college. A graduate degree can be even more expensive than a bachelors. One way to afford college is by taking out a student loan. The benefit of this is that it allows you to finish school and start your advocacy career right away, instead of saving up for many years. After you’ve graduated, you may need to complete specific training. An employer may use their discretion to require this training. It might also be the deciding factor between two candidates.
Services of an Advocate
If the perpetrator of the crime is free, your job may involve creating a safety plan for the victim. You would create an action plan in case your client came in contact with the aggressor. You may also secure a restraining order against them. There are several other services you may offer to victims, including:
- Helping with paperwork
- Going to court
- Educating on legal rights
- Being a supportive and comforting presence
- Assisting with law enforcement encounters
Your main job would be to help your client get back on their feet. For example, if they lost work because of the crime, you can help them search for a new job. If necessary, you can locate a mental health counselor, support group, or new housing. The work environment involves going to many different locations and can involve unusual hours. That allows you to address the victim’s needs.