Victim services are direct services for victims of domestic violence that promote the rights of victims, prevent violence, and provide support. Shelters often require some type of training to work with victims directly. Every shelter is different so you will have to contact your local shelter(s). Victim services are essential to the victims of these crimes.
Here are some organizations to get involved with if you are interested in working directly with victims of domestic violence:
“Tie your Talents”:
Professional volunteering is an excellent way to help victims of abuse. What are you good at? If you are a student that excels in a certain subject you can help tutor kids or women going back to school for their degrees. If you are a lawyer you can provide free legal counsel to victims of abuse. A lot of cosmetologists have started getting involved by providing free haircuts, waxes, or manicures/pedicures once a month at domestic violence shelters. If you are a child care provider or are experienced in child care, you can provide your services to these victims for free. A lot of families impacted by domestic violence have pets. When families are torn apart there is nowhere for their beloved animals to go unless the shelter will allow them. You can offer to foster the pet or help find a permanent home. No matter what is it you are good at, there is a way that you can tie your talents to helping a domestic violence victim! Visit Women’s Law – Helping Others to learn more about using your talents to help others.
Volunteer at a shelter:
Most shelters are in need of help.
If you volunteer, confidentiality is a huge part of your responsibility. Most women at the shelter will be ashamed or embarrassed about their situation and need to be as comfortable as possible. Also, breaching confidentiality could result in their abusers finding out where they are or other people getting hurt.
Contact your local United Way or volunteer agency to find out how to help: United Way 211
If you want to directly work with victims, most shelters require that you have some type of training. You can call your local shelter to find out what they require. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a list of state agencies to help victims and advocates connect to over 2000 programs. These agencies can also tell you where you can receive specialized training if the shelter(s) in your area requires it. Here are some resources to help get you started volunteering:
Women’s Law – Advocates
State Coalition List
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. This organization is dedicated to advocating for abused and neglected children, many of whom may witness and/or experience domestic violence in their homes. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home (CASA for Children, 2011).
To volunteer: CASA for Children – Volunteering
Safe Horizon is the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country. Collaborating with the criminal justice system, Safe Horizon offers innovative programs that provide affected individuals and families with support throughout the complex process of leaving violent relationships and building safe futures.