This is a detailed guide on how to become a victim advocate.
It is never easy to revert to a usual way of life after being kidnapped, raped, tortured, or robbed. Victims of crime need help to manage the depression, fear, anger, or guilt they suffer as a result of the incident.
They also have to deal with other issues like injuries, medical expenses, legal process, loss of money, and destruction of their properties.
Given the nature of their situations, victims of crime need help to be able to get back on their feet and get back to living their usual lives, ignoring the physical and emotional scars inflicted on them.
These victims need people who not only can offer professional help but do it happily, people who can put aside sentiments and not be judgemental. This help is one that can only be given properly by a victim advocate.
Becoming a victim advocate is never a difficult one. With determination and hard work, you can become a victim advocate.
If you wish to become a victim advocate, this guide will help.
Who Is A Victim Advocate?
A victim advocate is a person who is trained to help victims of crimes gain access to legal services and provide the necessary support they need while they seek justice.
They possess a mixture of the qualities of a counselor, psychologist, and criminologist at the same time and use the combination of these qualities to help their clients go through the process of recovery.
Victim advocates must be mentally ready for any situation and know how to handle it. They must be prepared to go the extra mile to help victims of crime, and it could include finding safe accommodation, healthcare, and even financial aid.
What Is The Role Of A Victim Advocate?
There are many duties and responsibilities of a victim advocate. These responsibilities are aimed at helping crime victims deal with the trauma that comes as a result of a crime.
Below are the job/responsibilities of a good victim advocate.
- Counsel crime victims and witnesses.
- Transport victims to court.
- Stand by victims during court proceedings.
- Assist victims when filing protective orders
- Intervention in victim’s crisis issues and helping in its management.
- Assisting in getting compensation for crime victims.
- Providing information and updates on suspects like when the suspect is being released from prison or put on parole.
- Providing resources that could help a crime victim.
- Giving referrals (recommending a trusted lawyer for example).
- Providing information on the process of getting justice.
- Information on how to prevent future reoccurrence.
- Pleading with landlords, employers, or creditors to consider the victim’s situation.
- Letting victims know their legal rights as approved by the country’s constitution.
- Assisting with funeral arrangements in the case of a family member or friend who died as a result of the incident.
Skills Needed To Be A Victim Advocate
There are many skills required to become a victim advocate. These skills are acquired during training and over the course of gaining experience in the field.
Most of these skills are soft skills and they help in building trust and an interpersonal relationship with the victim.
Below are the skills important for a victim advocate to possess.
1. Communication skills
A victim advocate should be able to communicate the victim’s needs very clearly and have the ability to have fruitful conversations with the victim.
A good victim advocate has the ability to understand the victim’s perspective and see the justification in their reaction to the crime.
This creates trust between the crime advocate and the client as they would get the feeling they have someone who understands their predicament.
This is a good tool in the toolbox of a victim advocate as they would be able to give the appropriate response and reaction.
3. Listening skills
A good victim advocate should have the ability to be able to listen to their clients and pay attention to details. They should not discard even the most irrelevant parts of the conversation and fully understand the victim.
4. Organizational skills
A victim advocate must be ready to carry out tasks to help the victims of a crime. These tasks could be very demanding and stressful but it is up to the victim advocate to ensure they are completed in order to achieve the set goals.
5. Problem-solving skills
After analyzing and understanding the situation, victim advocates should be able to suggest solutions. Information given by victims of crimes may be complex or lack enough details but the professionalism of a victim advocate helps him navigate through and find solutions.
6. Counseling Skills
They may not be certified counselors or therapists, but victim advocates must possess the ability to give proper counseling to crime victims.
They can also refer trusted counselors to their clients, arrange appointments and provide transportation to see the counselor.
Victim advocates must be able to work with other criminal justice professionals like detectives, judges, lawyers, probation officers, and correctional officers.
Where Does A Victim Advocates Work?
A certified victim advocate could work in a victim’s office, home, hospital or could be invited to a crime scene moments after a crime is committed to counsel the victims.
This could happen at any time of day and the expected earning after a period of time (maybe a week, month, or year) can not be specified as it depends on the number of sessions with the victim.
However, victim advocates could work in states or local agencies or in a profit/ non-profit organization on a fixed income.
In most cases, these state or local government agencies pay victim advocates better than the profit/ non-profit organizations.
How Much Do Victim Advocates Make?
The amount a victim advocate earns is affected by various factors; education being one of them, as victim advocates with advanced degrees are expected to earn more than those with lesser academic qualifications.
Location also affects salaries because people working in places with a higher cost of living earn more than those in locations with a lower cost of living.
Job experience is also another factor because entry-level victim advocates can not earn the same salaries earned by experienced victim advocates.
That being said, a social worker, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), make an average annual income of $50,470 in 2019, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,540.
Qualifications Needed To Become A Victim Advocate?
A two-year associate degree in psychology, social work, sociology, criminology, and other related fields would qualify you for a victim advocate job.
While a four-year bachelor’s degree in these fields would qualify you for more jobs. Having a master’s degree in social work would qualify you for counseling jobs like psychological counseling.
What Are The Steps Taken To Become A Victim Advocate?
Prospective victim advocates need to follow the following steps to become qualified to help crime victims deal with the aftermath of the crimes.
1. Get The Required Degree
As explained earlier, it is possible to be employed as a victim advocate with an associate degree but most employers prefer to open their employment opportunities mostly to people with at least a bachelor’s degree.
2. Volunteer Or Complete Internship As A Victim Advocate
This is not a necessary step but experience gained while volunteering or being an intern would make you more competitive in the market and ready when you get an actual job.
3. Earn voluntary credentials As A Victim Advocate
After volunteering for some time, you can decide to receive a certificate to show you performed well even though it is not necessary. This will go a long way in boosting your resumé.
4. Apply For A Victim Advocate Job
On the internet and other platforms, there are various openings for victim advocates. All you just need to do is pick a suitable job and apply for it, following all the application processes.
If you are not sure where to search for a victim advocate job, you can search Victim advocate job from Indeed.
5. Pass The Background Tests:
Victim advocates are required to pass legal and moral tests due to the reputation and expectations that come with being a victim advocate.
Pros And Cons Of Being A Victim Advocate
- You get to render help to those directly affected by crime.
- The victim advocate market is not as competitive as many other jobs.
- There is a variety of fields for prospective victim advocates.
- You need an associate or bachelor’s degree to become a victim advocate and you will be trained after employment in most cases.
- You perform several duties for victims.
- Most employers are looking to employ people with more job experience.
- There could be more cases than you can handle.
- The working hours of a victim advocate could be very unpredictable.
- When working for government agencies, you could be limited by budget.
- So many victim advocates go through a lot of stress due to the difficulty of the situations they are handling.
That’s all on how to become a victim advocate. I hope this guide helps?