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Running head: VICTIM ADVOCACY

Victim Advocacy
Edward Seavey
DeVry Univeristy

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VICTIM ADVOCACY
Society tends to have many different views when it comes to crime, how to punish them
and what they can do to help the victims. But the most important thing is that they all agree that
there needs to be help for the victims of crime. Victim advocacy groups are also essential when it
comes to formulating and distributing information about laws that can help victims. (Scheingold,
1994). One problem encountered in the need for victim advocacy groups is that some think that a
small number of victims are self-inflicted or that they brought the crime upon themselves. In a
study looking at peoples concern for victims, the elderly and female subjects were more likely to
view all victims as blameless and in need of help. (Clements, 2006). That sentiment is needed by
everyone in order for victim advocacy groups to work at their full potential otherwise some
victims may not feel as though they deserve help and it will work against them. One group called
the National Organization for Victim Assistance shares that view discovered in the study and
their main mission is, to champion dignity and compassion for victims of crime and crisis.
(NOVA, 2013).
The National Organization for Victim Assistance was founded in 1975 and is a nonprofit
charity while also being the oldest established national victim advocate program. The four core
values of NOVA are compassion, accountability, collaboration and passion. As their core they are
genuinely concerned for victims and have a great passion for helping and advocating on behalf
of their members. NOVA also partners with other companies such as LifeLock which offers
proactive services to help people from becoming victims of certain crimes. Just as their name
implies they are very focused on helping people all across the nation and focus on not just
support, but providing direct services to people.

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NOVA also points out that victims often have many needs that take a special approach to
being met and therefore work to help train and employ people to become professional crime
victim advocates. (NOVA, 2013). By having people who are specifically tailored to meet their
needs they are able to offer more specific programs backed by a professional. One of the biggest
services they offer to victims is legal help in regards to how they can be compensated. Many
victims of crime are entitled to receive help for medical bills, funerals and therapy services.
Since the compensation is done at the state level, NOVA offers resources and help for victims to
find the right offices and will advocate on their behalf and inform them of what their rights are to
compensation.
NOVA also breaks down the categories of crime in an effort to help each victim on a
personal level. Their understanding is that each victim is coming from a unique situation and
therefore the plans to help them must be different from a standard form. By breaking down crime
categories they can also show the different resources that are needed. Even without speaking to
them directly, their website offers a multitude of avenues to explore when trying to find local,
state and national level services relating specifically to a crime. Along with separating the crimes
NOVA makes sure that the victims know their rights and have a list of commonly affirmed rights.
The right to protection from intimidation and harm. The right to be informed
concerning the criminal justice process. The right to reparations. The right to
preservation of property and employment. The right to due process in criminal
court proceedings. The right to be treated with dignity and compassion. The right
to counsel. (NOVA, 2013).

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While NOVAs main focus is on victims of crime it is also important to point out that they
advocate on behalf of victims of crisis. NOVAs definition of crisis is when a person is dealing
with something unexpected and it results in trauma. (NOVA, 2013). More often the victims of
crisis are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and while they may not be victims of a
specific crime they are still in need of help. Much of NOVAs assisting for victims of crisis
focuses heavily on veterans who are suffering from PTSD. They offer help with group meetings
and counseling locating services if the victim needs a more personal approach from a mental
health counselor. NOVA has also been responding to crisis on a larger scale since 1986 and
participates in the National Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster. They respond to areas hit
by disasters in order to help the victims recover and offer them a way of getting services that
they may not know about. One of the most important parts of their crisis advocacy is that they
usually have their professionals as first responders who are there from the beginning. This
strategy can help people in that they will have help from the beginning and it can reduce the
damage that is done.
The National Organization for Victim Assistance is like the Wikipedia of victim services
information and programs. They are the oldest group and have the most experience when it
comes to advocating on behalf of victims and providing them with direct resources. They have a
great organizational structure that makes it easier to find out a victims rights and what services
may be available to them.

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REFERENCES
Clements, C. B., Brannen, D. N., Kirkley, S. M., Gordon, T. M., & Church II, W. T. (2006). The
measurement of concern about victims: Empathy, victim advocacy and the Victim Concern Scale
(VCS). Legal & Criminological Psychology, 11(2), 283-295. doi:10.1348/135532505X79573
Scheingold, S. A., Olson, T., & Pershing, J. (1994). Sexual Violence, Victim Advocacy, and
Republican Criminology: Washington State's Community Protection Act. Law & Society Review,
28(4), 729.
NOVA. (2013). About us. National Organization for Victim Assistance. Retrieved from
http://www.trynova.org/about-us/overview/
NOVA. (2013). Help crime victims. National Organization for Victim Assistance. Retrieved from
http://www.trynova.org/help-crime-victim/overview/
NOVA. (2013). Victims of crisis. National Organization for Victim Assistance. Retrieved from
http://www.trynova.org/crisis-victim/overview/