Over the duration of the semester material explained in this course has provided me with more advantageous information than a majority of my classes. I can honestly say that over my college experience this has been my favorite class and I am happy that it was a part of my final semester at Kennesaw. The entire textbook and material has been engaging and relevant towards ambition of service to those in need of assistance. The service learning project assigned in this class was amazingly practical.
I initially sought to volunteer with the Cobb County Temporary Protection Order (TPO) Office; while I was approved for the opportunity expediency led me to the victim assistance training program (VAT). Though I am eager to proceed with the TPO office in the next training dates and will be able to work with those seeking protection orders in the New Year. The victim assistance training acquainted me to a wider scope of advocacy than I would have been versant to providing the TPO office with administrative services.
The VAT comprised of 19 learning modules within four sections, which covered skills for professionals in victim services, basic competencies, and core fundamentals. Our course textbook provided a brief history of victimology and indicated social movements attributed to various dynamics in this discipline. The VAT also detailed the landmark events and movements that impacted victimology, victim rights and advocacy including key cultural shifts, legislative actions, and establishment of victim rights.
The key social campaigns include the Civil Rights Movement, Anti-War Movement, the Women’s and Feminist Movements, as well as, the Law and Order Movement leading to a “development of a broader understanding of the experiences of victimization” (Brightman & Quinn, 2015, p. 10). It was not until the late 1970’s and 1980’s when victims began to received the acknowledgements afforded to them. In 1982 the Protection Act passed and the Victims of Crime Act followed two years later. President Ronald Reagan announced the first national Crime Victims Week in April 1981, which we still honor today.
Cultural shifts were through public awareness from such federal acknowledgments and community campaigns. These evolutionary events and others relate to information given in various videos, web blogs, and informational websites referenced over the semester. The recognition of twelve common victim rights, the right to be heard, the right to make oral or written impact statements, and the right to restitution also relates to facts disclosed; especially in the assignment on contributors who were instrumental in the advocacy of victims.
Elizabeth Quinn and Sara Brightman (2015) discussed the criminal justice process and highlighted the roles of various personnel involved with said system. This summary relates to the information enclosed in the VAT as to what to expect from arrest, through the court system, and resolutions of cases. Within the VAT modules and lessons outlines of the Military System and Trial Systems were given. The Military Justice System includes addition crimes that only pertain to service men and women, not regular citizens within society.
Victim rights are taken seriously throughout the Military Justice Process and they have statues such as the Military Rule of Evidence 514 and special victim counsel to provided legal assistance to victims of sex-related offenses. The Tribal Justice System varies the most when comparing to our Criminal Justice System. The court’s held in these communities are held differently; as civil court are coined as family and community forums style tribal courts.
There has been federal regulations given to strengthen the Tribal Justice System: The Tribal Law and Order Act 2010, Public Law 280, Major Crimes Act, General Crimes Act, and the VAWA 2013. Indigenous justice is holistic, including various tribal traditions, and focuses on corrective obligation. The final relation I was to make is to the information provided concerning victim advocacy and those in need of it. The textbook used for class gave light to working with victims and essentially that is what the entire intent of the VAT.
Victim advocates not only work to support victims, but they also, lobby to commence change in legislations that will further propel the services and recognition for victims. The VAT explained in detail the responsibilities that are expected in the role of each step of advocacy. I feel that facts given in the textbook served as a great overview of the basics in which the VAT expanded on. Trauma-Informed Care in response to psychological trauma and the variation of traumatic events were mentioned throughout several chapters in the text.
Risk factors, symptoms, and informed trauma care explained prepares those to assist in a more practical way than the details given by Brightman and Quninn (2015), as well as, the imperative skills and duties coinciding a career in advocacy. Such specifics involve steps in an advocate plan, referrals, how to efficiently communicated verbally and non-verbally with victims, important points on listening, questioning, and paraphrasing, successful ideas on networking and finding the best resources available to those you will represent.
All of the information, data, and statistics collected and expounded throughout the textbook and online training of the VAT interrelated to the objective of my personal aspirations. In my opinion I think the victim assistance training should be required of all those working with victims, not limited to those in advocacy as this information would be constructive to law enforcement and many professions found in the justice system. The enhancement of my understanding and perspective of all facets pertaining to victim advocacy has increased my motivation to continue on this path so I may be the voice for those that need to be heard.