Helping Hands: Advocates are the voice for victims
Editor's note: Helping Hands is a Sunday column offering our area nonprofit groups a chance to talk about their work. If your group would like to be considered for participation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is by Nichole DeConcini, director of Advocacy & Shelter at Lakes Crisis and Resource Center, with assistance from the LCRC Advocate Team.
The mission of Lakes Crisis and Resource Center is "Fostering Safety, Hope and Healing through Advocacy, Intervention and Education."
An advocate is synonymous with a promoter, a backer, a crusader for, and a spokesperson. As advocates for crime victims, our staff provides the frontline support and critical services victims and their families need to move forward into lives free of violence and abuse. For many this lifeline is the only available option.
When a client is referred to us or comes through our doors, they are often seeking guidance, assistance, comfort, resources or someone to believe in them. All clients are greeted with dignity, kindness and respect through our working philosophy to meet clients where they are at.
To achieve this, our agency operates from a trauma-informed approach which includes viewing the client’s experiences or situation through their lens rather than our own. Every individual we work with has their own unique needs and circumstances. In the first quarter of this year, our advocates provided services to more than 700 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and general crime.
Safety is critical for our clients, and some situations are more serious and dire than others. For example, sexual assault victims may need immediate support from several entities. From the initial report, to the forensic medical exam, and throughout the criminal process, the advocate is present every step of the way.
We recently had a conversation with a sexual assault victim we served over a year ago. She stated she wouldn’t have been able to achieve where she is now were it not for the advocate who met her at the hospital after her assault, remained by her side throughout the court proceedings, and continued to work with her and promote her healing.
Safety is also first and foremost when helping a victim of domestic violence. Victims are often isolated from family and friends. If a victim does not have a support system or is feeling isolated, advocates are able to link arms with them to take steps forward and overcome the trauma together.
While advocates hear and experience traumatic stories with their clients, they are also fortunate to hear powerful statements regarding how Lakes Crisis and Resource Center services impacted their lives. Comments from prior clients that demonstrate the impact of the advocates include:
- “Thank you, Mary’s Place (our domestic violence shelter), for reminding me I am worth loving.”
- “Thank you for giving me this chance to change my life. Thank you for having my back through every step.”
- “The advocate didn’t make me feel rushed, uncomfortable or insignificant.”
- “… (A) renewal of faith in the human race. I acquired hope when it was dark, and I had lost it.”
- “My advocate made a difficult time for me a lot more comfortable and easier. She went above and beyond to help me out!”
- “Truth be told I never imagined myself to be in this position as a victim.”
Advocates are the voice for victims until they feel empowered to use their own.
Contact Lakes Crisis and Resource Center at 218-947-7446 or 218-847-8572, or visit www.lakescrisis.com .