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What is an advocate?
According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, victim advocates are professionals trained to support victims of crime. Advocates offer victims information, emotional support, and help finding resources and filling out paperwork. Sometimes, advocates go to court with victims. Advocates may also contact organizations, such as criminal justice or social service agencies, to get help or information for victims. Some advocates staff crisis hotlines, run support groups, or provide in-person counseling. Victim advocates may also be called victim service providers, victim/witness coordinators, or victim/witness specialists.
Denton County Friends of the Family has a staff of advocates who are trained professionals who provide support to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Advocates are often the first to assist survivors as they navigate through the difficult and often confusing legal processes. Denton County Friends of the Family works closely with the District Attorney's Office and has a licensed attorney on staff that consults on legal questions, provides training on relevant legal issues, and collaborates with legal service providers to increase pro-bono legal resources for clients. In addition, staff members and volunteers meet with survivors at court, provide referrals to attorneys and organizations that provide legal advice, and sit alongside survivors in the courtroom during proceedings to offer support. Our advocates will also discuss safety planning, shelter options, counseling opportunities, and available resources to each survivor during the intake appointment. Advocates help offer referrals to other community resources when needed. Advocates also guide survivors of sexual assault with the process of the criminal justice system. Since the expectations of the court system are unknown by most, the process can be overwhelming. While final decisions about a case are not always in the control of the survivor, an advocate’s involvement can help to ensure that survivors’ rights are upheld throughout the process. Denton County Friends of the Family understands the importance of survivors having informed, confident advocates who can help guide and support them through the legal system. Advocates will also assist survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence to improve their financial safety. Lack of economic stability directly impacts the immediate physical safety of victims who are afraid to leave, because they will not be able to survive without the economic support of the abuser. Assisting clients to obtain financial assistance and autonomy often empowers victims to leave an abusive situation.
Why get a Protective Order?
A protective order may prohibit an offender from:
Who can get a Protective Order?
Program staff and volunteers assist clients in obtaining available resources such as:
The Advocacy Department also provides life skills classes that include: