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Victim Advocate (also known as Child Advocate and Court Advocate)

Explore the Victim Advocate career

For victims of domestic violence and abuse, having an advocate on their side, one who understands cycles of violence, advocacy techniques, and how the justice system handles abuse, eases the fear and anxiety (see Anxiety) that often accompanies a complex, confusing, and traumatic process.

Depending on the specialty, domestic violence advocates can be called child advocates, court advocates, and victims' advocates. But regardless of their titles, all advocates help victims navigate through social service agencies, police procedures, court cases, and offer career guidance, and advice on everything from child welfare services to obtaining food stamps and other government assistance.

The horrors of physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse, or as in many cases, a combination of abuses, leaves victims disempowered and feeling helpless. An advocate starts the victim on the road to recovery by offering unconditional acceptance, and directing them to community resources, counselors, and others in the mental health field who can help them change and improve their lives.

Advocates work in a variety of settings, in local police stations, courts, women's shelters, health care and community organizations, state and federal government entities, and national associations. Sometimes they become self-employed consultants, providing counseling and other services to abuse victims.

Job responsibilities vary, but those who work for nonprofits such as women's shelters or victim abuse centers are often asked to juggle several responsibilities. They help traumatized and frightened victims develop safety plans, or direct victims to shelters, and help victims find jobs or apply for student loans in order to return to school.

Some nonprofits and community organizations have advocates working on fundraising events, writing grants, or providing basic clerical functions. These groups also employ advocates to conduct risk assessments with victims, receive daily referrals from law enforcement, and educate victims about the dynamics of domestic violence and abuse.

Community agencies employ advocates to organize and run programs, such as Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) that respond 24-hours a day. Advocates that work for these agencies are often called into emergency rooms, police stations, and universities.

Some advocates deliver educational services to schools, PTAs, health care professionals, and policymakers. They give presentations and training sessions on identifying abuse victims, intervention methods, and offer lists of available resources and agencies.

They also testify before state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, advocating for laws that better protect victims and their children, and for programs to assist victims who are trying to regain a sense of individuality and purpose. This can also involve actually writing legislation or writing for magazines and websites on domestic violence issues.

Because many victims are emotionally and physically taxed, they need guidance on how to file legal papers, how to appear in court, and how to talk and answer questions by judges and attorneys. Court dates mean that victims will have to face perpetrators, so advocates accompany victims to court, and also counsel them on handling this stressful encounter.

Often a bachelor's or master's degree is required to work as an advocate along with specialized training. States have domestic violence certification programs that prepare individuals for work as domestic violence advocates.

Many organizations also need volunteers, which is great way to get experience working in the field, and often leads to permanent employment.

Advocates with a background in psychology are highly valued, and in order to advance to more executive level positions within organizations, an advanced degree is required. If you are interested in impacting lives, and providing a supportive voice for victims of domestic abuse and violence, request information from schools offering degrees in psychology.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
            • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
            • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
            • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
            • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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            University of Phoenix , Online (campus option available)
            • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
            • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
            • Flexible start date and class schedules.
            • Locations nationwide and online options.
            • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
            • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
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            • Turn your fascination of the human mind into a career path - earn your Psychology degree!
            • An undergraduate or graduate degree in psychology from GCU can give you the tools to pursue a career path in psychology.
            • Just starting out? Our Bachelor of Science in Psychology can prepare you for an entry-level position or be a stepping stone to an advanced degree.
            • Already in the field? Deepen your understanding with a Master's in General Psychology, or specialize in Industrial & Organizational Psychology.
            • Online programs make it easy and convenient to take classes at home. Master's programs are also offered in the evenings at various locations.
            • Speak to an enrollment counselor today and learn about our various psychology programs!
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            • Now school comes to you, making earning your college degree a real possibility.
            • Experience a new way of learning through the innovative online experience at Ashford University.
            • Earn the Associate's, Bachelor's, or Master's degree you've always wanted.
            • Knowledge is everywhere, for everyone.
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            • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
            • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
            • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
            • Michigan's largest independent college.
            • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
            • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
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            • Gives students the option to enroll at any time and begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
            • Has an average freshman retention rate of 77.3 percent.
            • Ranked #39 in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Reports
            • Has more than 50,000 alumni including several astronauts, CEOs, and 32 generals.
            • Offers a special tuition rate for active duty, selected reserves, National Guard service members and their spouses.
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Its Fast Track program enables qualified students to save up to 30% on tuition and graduate up to 30% faster.
            • Its online MBA program was named by the International Graduate Forum as a top 10 Online MBA Program in 2012.
            • Listed as a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2014.
            • Lets students watch, view, read, or hear content through its program, My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.).
            • Has additional campus locations near military bases in Colorado Springs and Denver.
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            • Intertwining academic excellence and faith since its founding in 1941.
            • Offers traditional undergrad, adult and graduate, as well as seminary programs.
            • Gives laptop computers to all incoming freshman students.
            • Has nearly 20 study abroad programs available across 10 countries.
            • Located less than 5 miles from Grand Rapids, the 2nd largest city in Michigan.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
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            • Ranked 25th among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • One of the world’s leading private research universities.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 56.8% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has an average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 96.8 percent.
            • Dedicated to a strong tradition of integrating liberal and professional education since 1880.
            • Its faculty includes National Academy members, Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and more.
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