According to the universal principles of crisis intervention, Jackson-Cherry, L.R., & Erford, B.T. (2010). Crisis intervention and prevention. NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. “Intervening as quickly as possible is imperative. Resource mobilization should be immediately enacted in order to provide victims with the tools they need to return to some sort of order and normalcy, in addition to enable eventual independent functioning.” Advocates and all volunteers are trained in crisis intervention and follow the universal principles as described by Jackson and Erford. In addition, Advocate’s address crisis intervention by expressing an understanding that becoming a victim is a moment of crisis in which they are responding to a stressful experience where their usual ability to cope becomes inadequate to meet the demands of the life situation. Victimization occurs as the victim tries to deal with the stress produced from coping with the effects of the crime. “Advocates and professionals that work with crime victims can become a valuable asset to victims when they know how to react correctly, understand the complexities of the situation, and seek to understand the individual’s normal state of living, and discover the importance of concern and support for violent crime victims.” Patsy Day, “The Victim Experience”.
Advocates provide victims with information about the criminal justice process, available resources, and referrals by providing “victim packets”, to include victims’ rights material, resource information and crime victims’ compensation application to all agencies which will be available to crime victims, as well as providing the same information in-person, via post office mail, and electronic means where available and requested.
The following additional information is also included in these packets:
- Confidentiality policies and procedures;
- Subsequent steps of case processing and handling;
- The case number and contact person when applicable;
- Contacts for future crisis or emergency;
- What to do if threatened or intimidated; and
- Information on safety planning.
Assistance with Crime Victims Compensation
In addition to providing the application and eligibility information, Advocates assist in the completion process of the application by working with the crime victim to gather the needed data like police report numbers and receipts.
If transportation or shelter is needed, either to an immediate safe location, or in the days and weeks following the victimization, advocates, when appropriate, arrange assistance through local resources, allied agencies, cab or bus companies, local law enforcement, and hotels.
Assistance During the Interview Phase
Help during this phase includes participation with the law enforcement agency on behalf of the victim. Advocates understand that crime results in injuries and losses felt by the victim and by the community. The reactions experienced by the crime victim are not always in direct proportion to the actual losses experienced. Sometimes even the perceived losses cause extreme crisis reactions. The Victim Advocate will liaison between the law enforcement officer and the victim to assure that recovery from losses is of utmost importance while also allowing and assisting in an effective investigation process.
Accompaniment to Court
Once an initial investigation is complete, Advocates maintain contact with victims during the time that the case is being reviewed by the prosecutor. If charges are filed, relationships will be forged with court advocates (if available), if no charges are filed all attempts will be made to assure the victim is connected with community resources and family support. Advocates work to ensure that a victim whose case is not prosecuted receives services they have a right to under Missouri law.
- General information on victimization and victims’ rights;
- Safety planning;
- Case management;
- Support groups;
- Information on prevention and risk reduction;
- Advocacy or support on behalf of crime victims;
- Intervention and advocacy with creditors, landlords, and employers;
- Intervention with medical and mental health providers;
- Assistance with referral for crime scene cleanup;
- Assistance with identification and transportation of body and with funeral arrangements;
- Referrals to mental health services, substance abuse services, social services, and legal services;
- Assistance with document replacement; and
- Assistance with arrangement for property repair.