Victim advocate jobs can include positions working directly with crime victims in addition to performing research and providing other support to offices that provide assistance to victims. Qualifications required for victim advocate jobs vary, depending on the position. Some offices may require a bachelor's degree and additional training, while others accept people with associate's degrees or high school diplomas. People interested in becoming a victim advocate may want to review job listings to get an idea of the qualifications and experience needed in their region.
People who are victims of or are affected by violent crime are assigned victim advocates if they request them. Victim advocates provide emotional and legal support in the immediate aftermath of the crime, during the trial if someone is accused, and during the years that follow. Victim rights are protected by law in many regions of the world and victims are entitled to things like input during sentencing and probation hearings, and notification of the release or movement of a prisoner. A victim advocate helps to protect these rights while assisting the victim with the process of navigating through the legal system.
Some victim advocate jobs are focused on a particular area of advocacy, such as assisting victims with disabilities, or a particular type of crime, like sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, homicide, stalking, or domestic violence. People in these victim advocate jobs are assigned at the start and usually stay with the victim as long as possible to provide continuity of care. The victim advocate is a friendly face and resource for the victim who is available to provide support for everything from court appearances to connecting with community resources for victims.
Certain victim advocate jobs require special training. People who work with children, for example, may need to complete certification courses to learn how to work effectively with children who are victims of crimes. Victim advocate jobs that involve crisis counseling, such as rape victim advocates who counsel patients through the process of reporting a rape and undergoing a medical exam, must use certified crisis counselors. Legal training may be required for other victim advocate jobs so the advocate provides timely and appropriate advice on legal matters.
A career in victim advocacy can be very rewarding, but also very stressful. It is important for victim advocates to receive support and advice themselves so they do not burn out from stress while providing counseling and support to people in need. People who feel they cannot work directly with victims can explore victim advocate jobs in the area of legal research and support for working victim advocates.