Advocacy programs need to determine who is going to receive the information from police about the response and who will call the victims. This is likely to require new job duties for current staff, such as hotline workers, on-call advocates, and/or legal advocates. Administrative policy, procedures, and forms to support these enhanced roles are found in the AIR Manual. These new duties are summarized below:

Initial call to victim (by hotline worker, on-call advocate, or legal advocate):

  • Takes initial call from law enforcement
  • Makes initial phone contact with victim
  • Talks with victim (guided by a script included in the AIR manual):
    • Provides purpose of call and assures confidentiality of call (after confirming the call is confidential, e.g., no one is listening to the conversation or recording it.)
    • Obtain permission to continue
    • Assess and address immediate safety needs
    • Explain advocacy services and options
    • Discuss law enforcement response and next steps in court process (if an arrest was made)
    • Collect information about incident, history of violence in the relationship, and risk to the victim and/or her children
    • If offender was arrested, discuss victim’s preference regarding contact with offender upon release and how to inform the prosecutor, victim-witness specialist, or court to influence decisions regarding contact
    • Collect additional information the victim wants to share with the court
    • Secure releases of information
  • Documents information collected and passes information to legal advocate to contact victim for contact the next day, if requested by victim

Follow-up call with victim (by legal advocate):

  • Contacts victim next workday morning and, ideally, before court appearance if offender was arrested, or makes contact with potential victim-defendants (victims of ongoing battering who have been arrested for use of force) via phone, in-person conversation in court, or during a jail visit
  • Gets victim’s description of what happened and compares to police report
  • Asks about victim’s wishes regarding court process and communicates that information to court with appropriate consent (The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) require that their grantees only release client information with the informed, written, and time-limited consent of the client unless compelled by statute or court order. There are further requirements for some minors and adults with guardians. For more information about releases or other privacy issues, please contact: the Victim Rights Law Center)
  • Maintains contact with victim through court process and monitors case processing
  • Tracks and compiles case outcomes

Programs need to ensure the initial callers and legal advocates know:

  • Steps in criminal case processing (when the offender will appear, when they will be released, if there will be other hearings, if and when the victim should go to court, and any other relevant steps.)
  • What role the system expects victims to play at each step

Legal advocates also should be familiar with:

If you do not already have one, advocacy programs need to develop a plan for language access in the event the victim they are calling has limited English proficiency (read an article in Praxis Rural Digest, Issue 4, on Language Access for Rural Advocacy). Similarly, advocacy programs should ensure they have access to legal resources to support victims with immigration status concerns or challenges. If these do not already exist in the community, or what does exist cannot meet the demand, some advocacy programs are seeking certification for non-attorney staff to practice immigration law.

Finally, the legal advocate makes monthly reports to their supervisor detailing the number of law enforcement contacts, number of victim contacts, and reviews the response concerns tracking sheet (see AIR Manual).