Let me premise this post by saying the victim advocate assigned to my son and our family following my son’s stabbing was kind, educated, and smart. She is a person that adds to the world and I’m glad she’s in it. That being said, victim advocates are employed by the state not the victim. I’ve come to the conclusion that the victim advocate system is more of a victim management system. Victims need to know this upfront before you start relying on them.
Victims and their families are assigned a victim advocate right away. My son was still in the hospital, we were still vulnerable and suddenly we had a knowledgeable, caring individual to advocate for us. It is amazing to me now how quickly we embraced this person as almost a member of the family.
Our victim advocate made herself available 24/7, gave us hugs, let us cry on her shoulder. And when the gavel hit the block at the end of the trial she was gone.
That’s the way the system works. Her leaving might have been fine, but the man who stabbed my son had been acquitted and took to Reddit and other social media. My son received death threats, was doxed, and on and on. The victim advocate didn’t help - or return my calls – she wasn’t allowed.
The Washington State victim advocate program http://www.cvan11.org/rights.php explains “You Have Rights”. Read this carefully, take advantage of what the advocate can do and don’t expect too much. You are simply not going to have the input into the trial that the defendant does. They cannot help you if, as a victim, you are doxed, stalked, or otherwise intimidated after trial.
This is one of the essential points of Victim’s Voice: the systems in place to protect victims and witnesses have not caught up to today’s problems with fake media, social media, online stalking, etc.