National Crime Victims’ Rights is scheduled for April 6 through April 12, 2014. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “30 Years—-Restoring the Balance of Justice.” A silhouette of Lady Liberty holding the scales of justice profiles the week long calendar of events on the National Institute of Justice web page. This image is a reminder of the work domestic violence advocates do to access justice for those affected by the crime of domestic violence.
Crime is something many have experiences either directly or indirectly. Crime is often a violation of someone’s safety. Programs are in place on the national, state and local level to not only help to reduce crime but to assist and compensate crime victims. The Barren River Area Safe Space, Inc. is one of those local programs. The agency receives federal funding through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) to assist victims of the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Victim Advocates that assist in Logan County are funded either through VOCA or VAWA and assist Logan County Citizens at domestic violence hearings, to review legal options for protection, make referrals for legal services, assist with safety planning, assess for risk and lethality, and provide other supportive services. Victim Advocates also provide information on Crime Victims Compensation, a source of financial support though Kentucky’s Crime Victims Compensation Board, enacted in 1976. Kentucky was the 14th state to enact such legislation.
In 1984, Congress passed the bipartisan Victims of Crime Act, which created a national fund to ease victim’s suffering. Financed not by taxpayers but by fines and penalties paid by offenders, the Crime Victims Fund supports victim services, such as domestic violence programs and offers victim compensation that pay many of the out of pocket expenses from the crime, such as counseling, funeral expenses and lost wages. Medical, dental and corrective lens expenses resulting from the crime may also be compensated.
There is an application process for a victim to file a Crime Victims Compensation claim and a BRASS Victim Advocate is available to help assist with the application and gathering of documentation. Healing for victims of physical and sexual assault and/or stalking is often tenuous and long in duration. Healing for the families of crime victims, especially victims of homicide is often difficult and painful.
The role of a victim advocate includes addressing the trauma associated with the victimization. Victim Advocates also work with families of domestic violence related homicide victims. Victim Advocates work within a trauma informed care model that necessitates an understanding of how trauma impacts the life of an individual, and also of a family. Empathy, patience and compassion are necessary in working with a victim of crime. The ability to listen and validate the crime victim’s experience are integral in the way a victim advocate approaches each individual crime victim. Trauma impacts every aspect of someone’s life including health, relationships, employment and education. Victim Advocates are trained to work with an individual victim of crime to process the stages of trauma in order to establish goals for safety, security and empowerment.
Laws exist to protect crime victims’ rights and agencies exist to provide services and referrals. If you are a victim or survivor of domestic violence and need assistance call 1-800-928-1183. This is a 24 hour crisis line answered by trained advocates. You will be able to leave a message for a Logan County Advocate, if needed. If you would like more information please visit our website at www.barrenriverareasafespace.com For more information on Kentucky’s Crime Victim’s Compensation program visit www.cvcb.ky.gov/ or call 502-573-2290.