Victim advocates provide a support system to those who have experienced violence, accompanying them through the judicial process and connecting them with relevant medical and social services. The psychological and physical repercussions of trauma can be long-lasting, and advocates can help survivors to feel that their suffering is acknowledged. Moreover, they can also be instrumental in addressing systematic disparities such as racial and economic disparities.
Creating a Safe Environment
When victims feel safe, they can begin to heal. Victim advocates like Catherine Cerulli New York can help to create a safe environment by serving as trusted confidants and accompanying victims to medical and law enforcement appointments, interviews and court hearings. Survivors may experience many emotions, including anger at their perpetrator or the criminal justice system for allowing the crime to happen. However, when a victim can focus their anger on pursuing justice for others who have experienced similar tragedies, it can transform into something productive. As a result, some victims choose to become activists and use their voices as part of their healing process.
Unfortunately, bureaucratic processes and unfair eligibility regulations exclude millions of people harmed by violence from receiving the services they need to recover from their trauma. When victims feel unheard, it can lead to debilitating symptoms that impact their health, well-being and long-term stability.
Advocacy is a process that starts with understanding who you are and what matters most to you and then creating and maintaining boundaries based on those values. This empowering practice allows you to take control of your life and retain the ability to make choices that are best for you. Self-advocacy is a skill that everyone can learn and use in their daily lives. However, it is particularly important for people with disabilities as a way to access the services they need, communicate their needs, and become more confident in their abilities. This is a process that often requires training and practice. Numerous self-advocacy resources are available online and through local and state chapters of The Arc.
Creating Healthy Relationships
Having supportive relationships is crucial for survivors to heal. They may need someone to listen, hold on to important documents or evidence, or provide a loving and caring presence. It’s not always easy for victims to reach out, especially if their abuser has isolated them from others. But they need to know they don’t need to be alone and can rebuild their lives. Advocates can help by fostering these healthy relationships with survivors. They can also empower victims to participate in criminal justice reform and work with law enforcement to bring their perpetrators to justice. Victims are more likely to be stable, return to their jobs and pay their bills if they receive advocacy support. Advocacy connects women and gender-nonconforming people enduring a loved one’s incarceration into a community that supports them and believes in their ability to turn their pain into purpose.
Many survivors of abuse struggle to feel empowered after experiencing trauma. Abuse isn’t just physical violence — it can also take the form of emotional or psychological aggression. When survivors can connect with other victims, they learn that they are not alone in their experiences and feelings. This helps to reaffirm their power and agency. It also allows them to see that the systems that caused them harm are flawed and can be changed. Survivors who advocate together are more likely to be treated with empathy and respect in the legal and social services systems. They can share their stories in person, call or email legislators before important votes, post on social media and attend events to show their support.
No one should have to endure a loved one’s incarceration alone.