Section 5: Strategies for Applying the Victim–Centered Approach
3 Hours, 25 Minutes

Lecture TopicTOPIC: DERIVING THE BENEFITS
(60 minutes)

Learning ActivityLearning Activity: Deriving the Benefits
(60 minutes)

Early on in the training, we talked about some of the benefits that might be derived from identifying and working with the common ground between ourselves and both victims and victim advocates.

Does anyone recall what some of those potential benefits were, either for us or for victims and victim advocates? Or maybe you’ve thought of others during the course of the training? (Write these on a flip chart, or refer to the slides.)

Use Slide Use Slide #5 (Optional Slide): How Do We Benefit?

Slide 5
Enlarge Slide 5

Note: If you find a suggested strategy is not particularly appropriate (for example, if a group suggests polygraphing victims to find out what they know), it will be important to comment on why it is inappropriate. Do not let stand strategies that reinforce victim-blaming attitudes, myths about victims, or strategies that treat victims as if they were under correctional supervision or court orders.

  1. Break the group into as many benefits as you have listed, and ask each group to select a recorder and reporter. Assign one benefit to each group.
  2. Ask the group to identify strategies for achieving that particular benefit. Encourage them to be as specific as they possibly can. For example, if the benefit is more information about an offender’s cycle of offending, how would they get that information? At what stage of supervision? In what format? Written? Verbal? Is it a one time information gathering effort or would it continue over time?
  3. Ask the group to then identify challenges or obstacles they might face in trying to implement any of the strategies they’ve identified, again, being as specific as possible. If one of the strategies is to send a letter to victims inviting them to call with information about the offender, challenges might include locating victims, or victims being uncomfortable responding to an unfamiliar contact person or agency.
  4. Next, ask them to select one of the challenges or obstacles and identify possible (specific) strategies to overcome that challenge or obstacle. For example, victims might be more willing to respond if the letter came from a victim advocate.

Processing the Exercise:

  1. Ask each group to report one strategy to achieve the benefit, one obstacle or challenge, and one strategy to overcome the obstacle. Record these on a flip chart.
  2. Ask if anyone notices anything about the information that has been recorded. (Do the challenges or proposed strategies have anything in common? Do any of the strategies or solutions appear more than once?)
  3. Ask if any group had any particular difficulties—were there any benefits that didn’t suggest a strategy? Or obstacles that seemed particularly difficult to overcome? Invite the whole group to discuss and offer suggestions.

The idea behind this exercise is to help you begin thinking strategically about how you might want to apply some of your knowledge about victims and victim advocates to enhance your work with offenders. It is up to you and your colleagues to determine which benefits are most important to the work you are currently doing, and whether and how you are going to pursue activities or changes that will help you achieve those benefits.

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