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What Is A Victim Advocate?

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.

Roles and Training

Advocates' responsibilities vary depending on their job description and where they work Typically, the role of an advocate may include:

  • Providing information on victimization;
  • Providing information on crime prevention;
  • Providing information on victims' legal rights and protections;
  • Providing information on the criminal justice process;
  • Providing emotional support to victims;
  • Helping victims with safety planning;
  • Helping victims with victim compensation applications;
  • Helping victims submit comments to courts and parole boards;
  • Intervening with creditors, landlords, and employers on behalf of victims;
  • Helping victims find shelter and transportation;
  • Providing referrals for other services for victims; Helping to arrange funerals; and
  • Notifying victims of inmates' release or escape.

Advocates work in many different locations. Some serve in the criminal justice system (in police stations, prosecutor's offices, courts, probation or parole departments, or prisons). They may also be part of private nonprofit organizations such as sexual assault crisis centers or domestic violence programs. Some advocates are paid staff, and others are volunteers. Many advocates have academic degrees that prepare them to work with victims. They may have studied social work, criminal justice, education, or psychology. Advocates often receive significant additional training on the specific knowledge and skills they need on the job.

How Advocates Work with Victims

Advocates offer victims information about the different options available to them and support victims' decision-making. Advocates do not tell victims what to do. Advocates are committed to maintaining the highest possible levels of confidentiality in their communications with victims. However, the level of confidentiality they can observe depends on their position, education, licensure, and the laws in each state. An advocate in a police department may have to share any information related to an investigation with officers. Yet an advocate at a domestic violence program may be able to keep most victims' confidences private. However, all advocates must report certain types of information to the authorities. For example, they have to report any type of threat to a person (such as clients threatening to hurt themselves or someone else), and they have to report the abuse or neglect of children. It is important for victims to ask about confidentiality rules before they begin working with an advocate.

If You Are a Victim

It may be difficult for you to reach out for help. But you may find that victim advocates can offer you information, support, and access to helpful services you might not know about. Victims are often relieved to know that agencies in their community want to make sure they are safe and have the help they need to recover from the impact of the crime.

Alberta McLaughlin

Alberta McLaughlin


(704) 638-5337

The Victim Witness Advocate is responsible for providing direct services to victims, including court accompaniment, financial assistance, crisis intervention and referrals to local service providers. The Advocate will also work with the Project Safe Neighborhood coordinator to develop effective violence reduction strategies and improve the long-term prevention of gun violence in Salisbury.

With more than 10 years of North Carolina chaplaincy work, McLaughlin began her career as a correctional officer with the Department of Public Safety. After obtaining a Master of Divinity Degree, she would serve as a clinical chaplain for the department. She has also worked as an educator for the Rowan-Salisbury School District. McLaughlin continues to serve as a chaplain at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. Also, she serves as the pastor at Sandhill United Church of Christ and a supply pastor at Allen Temple Presbyterian Church.

Victim Resources

General Resources

Crime (website)
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Victim Assistance (website)
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (website)

National Center for Victims of Crime (website)
VictimConnect Resource Center

Phone & Text Helpline: 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846) Chat:

National Organization for Victim Assistance (website)
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) (website)
Victim Law (website) (

Bullying ( )

Campus Safety

Center for Changing Our Campus Culture Changing our

Dating Violence

Dating Violence:

Elder Abuse

National Center on Elder Abuse, Administration on Aging (website) Toll Free: 1-800-677-1116

Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline (website)
Toll Free: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233); 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline (website)
Toll Free: 1-866-331-9474; 1-866-331-8453 (TTY)

Identity Theft & Cyber Crimes

Federal Trade Commission:
Deter, Detect, and Defend Against Identity Theft ( website)
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline: Toll Free: 1-877-ID-THEFT, 1-877-438-4338
National Cyber Security Alliance (website)


National Crime Victim Helpline, Stalking Resource Center (website):
VictimConnect Resource Center
Phone & Text Helpline: 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)

Rape and Sexual Assault

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (website)
Toll Free: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline:
Jane Doe No More (website)
National Sexual Violence Resource Center,
Not Alone,

Human Trafficking

Blue Campaign, U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
Global Center for Women and Justice: website
National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
Toll Free Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
Understanding and Addressing Trauma and Child Trafficking (2017)


International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (website)
U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Victims of Crime:

Child Victims

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (website)
Toll Free: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Children and Family Futures,
Clergy as Mandated Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect (2017)
Drug Endangered Children Training and Advocacy Center (DEC-TAC) (website)
Families Affected by Parental Substance Use (2017)
Helping children and Adolescents Cope With Disasters How Community Can Help (2017)
National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (NADEC) (website)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) (website)
Toll Free: 1-800-843-5678
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare,
National Child Advocacy Center (website)
Telephone: 256-533-KIDS (5437)
National Children’s Alliance,
National Child Traumatic Stress Network,
National Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (website)
National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. (website)
Toll Free: 1-888-818-POMC
Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents,
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway (website)
The White House, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Drug Endangered Children (website)
West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice – Handle With Care:

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