Work with an Advocate
What to Expect from a Victim/Witness Liaison:
You are the expert of your own life, and the only one who knows what is right and safe for you to do. No one deserves to be abused. You are not alone and there is support and assistance for you. Local domestic violence programs are a valuable resource. They provide confidential help including:
- 24-hour hotlines
- Emergency shelter
Shelter may be what most people think a domestic violence program provides, but they also provide a lot of other useful services. You don't have to stay in a shelter to get help from a domestic violence program.
You can use a domestic violence program whether you plan to stay in the relationship with your partner or not. The person at a domestic violence program who will help you is a "domestic violence advocate."
Advocates understand the various systems you may interact with, including:
- Criminal justice
- Family Court
- Social services
- Community resources that might be useful to you.
In addition to giving you good information, an advocate can often go with you to court, to the police station, or to social services. An advocate can also give you practical and emotional support.
Getting help from someone who has experience working with victims of domestic violence and knows how to work with the different systems can make things a lot easier for you.
The domestic violence advocate/representative of a domestic violence agency is there to help empower victims/survivors, not to take over their lives or make decisions for them. The advocate's job is to offer support and discuss available options.
If you are having difficulty with a domestic violence program you can:
- Speak with the supervisor at the program about the problem you are having
- Ask if your case can be transferred to another advocate
- Ask for a referral to another program
- File a written, formal complaint with the NYS OCFS regional office that covers your county
What other services can a domestic violence program offer?
- Work with court systems and police to evaluate domestic violence allegations
- Assess victim safety and refer to services as needed
- Provide information about domestic violence and the options for services
- Let the victim know about their rights and responsibilities
- Work with the domestic violence liaison at DSS to help the victim get public assistance
- Establish and maintain a relationship with other services providers
- Coordinate meetings and activities with other case managers and examiners
- Help with emergency safety planning for victims in a crisis
- Collect and maintain data/record keeping