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Section III: Direct Services

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.1: The victim assistance provider develops rapport and communicates effectively with victims/survivors.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Demonstrate ongoing efforts to improve skills in effective communication, including verbal and nonverbal communication, and cultural competency.
  • Apply basic strategies for good communication, including developing rapport, actively listening, and ensuring that victims have access to qualified, victim-appropriate interpretation and translation services (e.g., spoken and signed language interpreters, translated materials, videophones, TTY devices).
  • Establish and maintain collaborative and trusting relationships with victims/survivors.
  • Relate to victims/survivors in a respectful and nonjudgmental manner; employ a victim-centered and trauma-informed perspective.
  • Focus on victim/survivor empowerment and emphasize strengths.
  • Support victim self-determination and informed decisionmaking.
  • Respect client confidentiality. computer icon
  • Apply strategies for using verbal and nonverbal communication to calm crisis situations so that assessments and case planning may take place.
  • Apply strategies for gathering case-specific information and relevant facts for safety planning and service delivery.
  • Value the need to communicate as a service provider, rather than trying to gain case information as part of an investigation.
  • Apply strategies for addressing conflict and moderating one's own verbal and nonverbal reactions to victim/survivor communications as needed.

Supporting a victim's right to self-determination may become complicated in contexts involving children or people of all ages who have certain cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses that impede their ability to make decisions affecting their safety and well-being. Victim assistance providers are encouraged to consider the age, maturity, and cognitive abilities of their clients, and to consult qualified medical, mental health, and social work professionals for assistance in interpreting a client's level of self-determination. Providers who frequently work with children or adults with certain disabilities or illnesses are encouraged to seek training in understanding mental competence and effective communication skills.

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.2: The victim assistance provider helps victims/survivors to identify appropriate resources.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Identify the effects of crime on the lives of victims, survivors, and their families and friends, including its mental, physical, financial, legal, social, emotional, and spiritual impact.
  • Assist victims through the process of identifying and prioritizing their needs as they define them.
  • Describe appropriate service options, how to access them, and the benefits or reasonable expectations of each.
  • Apply strategies for using flexible and innovative solutions to address victim/survivor needs.
  • Recognize victim/survivor strengths that promote resilience as well as conditions that influence victim/survivor vulnerability (e.g., symptoms of mental illness, trauma reactions, substance abuse).
  • Describe appropriate referral resources for addressing those needs that are beyond the scope of one's program (e.g., mental health referrals, substance abuse counseling, child and adult protective services, legal services, medical care, housing, employment assistance, disability services, language assistance, spiritual direction).

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.3: The victim assistance provider advocates appropriately for individual victims/survivors within the organization and the community.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Describe, in lay terms, what advocacy is.
  • Recognize the contribution that advocacy can make toward victim/survivor well-being, and the effectiveness of interventions.
  • Support and facilitate the victim/survivor in advocating on his or her own behalf, where appropriate (see text box, above, on self-determination).
  • Apply strategies for educating colleagues and administrators about the victim assistance provider's role.
  • Value the victim's right to self-determination, where appropriate, and advocate for what the victim/survivor wants and needs, and for his or her rights, throughout service delivery (within the limits of ethics and program policy).
  • Apply strategies appropriate to organizations, systems, and communities in negotiating victim/survivor needs.

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.4: The victim assistance provider assists individual victims/survivors in addressing their traumatic responses to victimization. computer icon

Elements include the ability to:

  • Identify short- and long-term consequences of trauma and reactions to it, including grief and loss and reactions in crisis situations.
  • Recognize the range of normal reactions to having been victimized (e.g., anger, self-blame, helplessness).
  • Recognize how trauma can affect a victim's ability to access and use services and to assist in the criminal justice process.
  • Understand the general concepts of human development, relationship dynamics, and environmental stressors (e.g., previous victimization, poverty) as they relate to victim/survivor responses and resilience.
  • Understand the impact of complex trauma and polyvictimization.
  • Describe aspects of the justice or service process that may create additional trauma for victims/survivors and ways to minimize and address re-traumatization.
  • Apply strategies for responding effectively to victim/survivor trauma, including helping victims/survivors to identify environmental stressors, removing or reducing stressors, and empowering victims/survivors to regain a sense of personal control.
  • Recognize when reactions to trauma indicate that referral for clinical treatment (e.g., trauma therapy, mental health treatment) may be helpful.
  • Describe strategies for victim/survivor self-care to supplement formal service options.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources and information related to understanding the impact of trauma and helping children and families.

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.5: The victim assistance provider uses effective crisis intervention skills when confronted with a crisis situation.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Understand program policies and procedures for crisis situations.
  • Recognize when a situation is a crisis and the danger it presents to the person served and others.
  • Assess victim/survivor concerns about immediate safety and take steps to reduce these concerns.
  • Use active listening during the victim's or survivor's re-telling of the event.
  • Help victims/survivors identify and plan for potential stressors.
  • Apply specific strategies for addressing foreseeable crisis situations (e.g., suicidal behavior).
  • Recognize exceptions to confidentiality rules in crisis or dangerous situations.
  • Understand applicable mandated reporting requirements and the program policies for filing such reports.
  • Identify resources within the organization or the community that can assist with crisis situations, as needed, to support victim safety.
  • Understand and apply safety procedures as they apply to dangers that may affect staff.

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.6: The victim assistance provider adequately prepares victims/survivors for interacting with justice and service systems.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Describe, in lay terms, basic victims' rights and how they apply to victim/survivor situations.
  • Describe, in lay terms, the roles and processes of the criminal justice and service systems. Understand that many victims come from countries where systems and rule of law are different, and utilize community members from similar background to bridge cultural differences, as appropriate.
  • Where appropriate, provide information to help victims/survivors make informed choices about their level of participation in the criminal justice and service systems.
  • Identify methods for gathering accurate information on case procedures and potential outcomes.
  • Prepare victims/survivors for involvement in the criminal justice and service processes.
  • Apply strategies for helping victims/survivors access and participate fully in the criminal justice and service systems (e.g., victim, health, and community services).
  • Recognize the significance of justice proceedings for victims/survivors, both as a vehicle of empowerment and of re-traumatization.
  • Value the need for realistic expectations of justice proceedings and victim service plans.
  • Recognize when connecting the victim/survivor with another provider may be most beneficial to ensure seamless delivery of services.
  • Understand and apply safety procedures as they apply to dangers that may affect staff.

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.7: The victim assistance provider successfully advocates for victims/survivors in criminal justice settings (as appropriate to program goals).

Elements include the ability to:

  • Understand and communicate basic rules of courtroom behavior and proceedings.
  • Communicate the basic rights of crime victims and how these should be upheld within the criminal justice process.
  • Recognize when a victim's rights have been violated and follow procedures to bring the violation to the attention of appropriate professionals.
  • Recognize the basic legal options of victims/survivors and the potential results of different courses of action.
  • Apply strategies for communicating effectively and positively with attorneys and other legal personnel on behalf of crime victims and survivors.
  • Identify resources for learning more about legal processes and justice issues.
  • Understand the difference between legal advice and legal representation, and understand the prohibitions against providing such advice or representation without a license to do so.
  • Understand when to refer a victim to a legal service provider for additional assistance.

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.8: The victim assistance provider engages in ongoing support and follow-up for individual victims/survivors, families, and groups.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Recognize the mental, physical, financial, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of both direct and indirect victims of crime.
  • Identify programs and resources for meeting victim/survivor needs over time.
  • Maintain trusting relationships with victims/survivors, emphasizing empowerment and self-determination, where appropriate.
  • Recognize the unique benefits of different forms of support, including peer and professional support, and also group and individual support.
  • Follow up with victims to determine if referrals were helpful and effective in addressing their needs.
  • Apply strategies for addressing individual and group conflicts.
  • As appropriate to program goals, apply strategies for helping to organize self-help and other support groups.
  • As appropriate to task demands, recognize the basic dynamics of group processes, including roles, norms, interdependence, leadership, and phases of group development.
  • As appropriate to task demands, apply strategies that foster empowerment and positive interpersonal support within group intervention settings.
  • As appropriate to task demands, apply strategies for promoting fairness and respectfulness within group intervention settings (e.g., ground rules).

COMPETENCY STANDARD 3.9: The victim assistance provider uses specific interventions appropriate to the type of victimization.

Elements include the ability to:

  • Identify key issues for high-incidence cases addressed by one's own program, including (as applicable) homicide, suicide, death notification, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, hate crimes, property crimes, drunk driving death and injury, elder abuse, child victimization, exploitation and trafficking, online and electronic crime, and terrorism.
  • Identify key issues related to case characteristics (e.g., relationship to offender).
  • Identify the impact of specific types of crime and the needs of victims/survivors of those crimes.
  • Describe appropriate services and referrals for victims/survivors based on the type of victimization and the person's individual needs.
  • Describe options for self-care and community activism based on the type of victimization and the person's individual interests.
  • Apply strategies for addressing crime-specific types of interventions (e.g., safety planning, including safe use of technology).
  • Recognize interventions that may be inappropriate for particular types of cases (e.g., mediation in domestic violence cases).
  • Identify research-informed and evidence-based interventions that may be helpful for the program's victims/survivors.
  • Make referrals as needed when personal biases, training, expertise, or resources limit the provider's effectiveness.

computer iconVAT Online is a free Web-based victim assistance training program that includes training modules on the topics of “Assessing Victim’s Needs,” “Referrals,” and “Collaboration.”

computer iconVAT Online is a free Web-based victim assistance training that includes a training module on the topic of “Trauma-Informed Care.”

computer iconVAT Online is a free Web-based victim assistance training that includes a training module on the topic of “Confidentiality.”