Section 3: Working with Sexual Assault Victim Advocates
2 Hours, 55 Minutes

(5 minutes)

Role of Advocates

Working with advocates is one of the three essential components in a victim–centered approach to sex offender management. Victim advocates can be some of our best allies in making this approach work well. By collaborating with victim advocates, we can get the information we need to be more effective at confronting the secrecy, manipulation, and deception that characterizes sex offending behavior. They can also assist in gathering the victim input needed to make more informed decisions.

Who are Victim Advocates?

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Victim advocates are professionals whose primary role is to serve the needs of crime victims on an individual and/or system level. Individual level advocacy provides assistance to individual victims trying to navigate the various criminal justice and social systems (for example, helping a victim write a victim impact statement). System–level advocacy is a way of helping crime victims by helping to change the way the system as a whole responds to crime victims and their concerns. An example of system level advocacy might be providing training for criminal justice personnel on new victim–related legislation.

There are other differences between victim advocates as well. Some advocates assist victims of all different kinds of crime; others specialize in particular crimes, like domestic violence, sexual assault, or child physical and sexual abuse. We will talk more in a moment about the different kinds of victim advocates and the different services they provide, as well as other victim service providers. System–based advocates help victims who are dealing with the criminal or juvenile justice system by providing support, information, and assistance. The following are some of the main functions advocates serve in the criminal or juvenile justice system. It is important to be aware that not all advocates serve victims in all these ways.

Use Slide Use Slide #4: Main Functions of Criminal Justice System Victim Advocates

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These services, while not directly related to the supervision of sex offenders, can have a positive effect on the management of sex offenders by making victims feel well–served by the criminal justice system, and therefore, more open to hearing about and participating in the correctional aspects of the process at the point at which community supervision becomes an issue.

We’ll talk more about specific roles in a moment, but right now it is important to make the distinction between the various types of advocates you might come in contact with.

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