Our staff acts as advocates for domestic violence victims in a number of ways. Staff members are trained as medical, legal, and children’s advocates so that victims needing special assistance in any of these areas have trained personnel to work with them. Advocates do not make decisions for the victims or direct them to take a specific course of action; the advocate’s job is to act on behalf of the victim, insuring that their wishes and instructions are carried out when they may be too distraught to speak or act for themselves. All staff also act as systems advocates and seek to improve the response of the legal, judicial and human services systems to the needs of domestic violence victims.
The Legal Advocate at DVI works with those victims seeking a Protection From Abuse order (PFA) by reviewing the paperwork and procedures of the law enforcement and justice systems. The Legal Advocate accompanies the victim to the temporary order hearing as well as the full hearing to make the order permanent. The victim is then accompanied to the prothonotary’s office to file the order and to the sheriff’s office to assure that the order will be served to the batterer. The Legal Advocate also reviews the specifics of the order with the victim and answers any questions the victim has about the PFA order and its stipulations.
Medical Advocates must be requested by a victim of abuse who has been transported to the emergency room or admitted to a hospital. The Medical Advocate meets with the victim and provides emotional support while the victim is treated assuring that she or he has all questions answered and understands treatment. The Medical Advocate explains the options a victim has following release from the hospital and provides counseling as needed.
First Response Team
The First Response Team or FRT, are victim’s advocates who provide services wherever a victim discloses abuse. The FRT advocate may be at a presentation, community event, contacted by police, or answering a hotline call when they are approached by or about a victim. It is the advocate’s responsibility to assess the situation and determine appropriate action which can include referral to counseling or shelter, referral to legal services, or simply providing information.
As with all of DVI’s services, the assistance of an advocate is provided at no charge.