Advocacy is as old as humans. Any time we affirm the needs of people and facilitate meaningful services to them, we are advocating. You don’t need a license to do that.
Yet in 1984, Congress enacted the Victims of Crime Act (1984) that affirmed victims’ rights and services at a federal level and opened the door for the role of the professional of Crime Victim Advocate. Skill-based advocates can be paid as well as volunteer. While the salary status of the two positions can differ, both roles reflect significant training, experience and education necessary to meet the demands of helping victims address safety concerns, navigate the justice system and deal with the emotional impact of profound losses.
Victims of crime can have layers of needs that require a variety of skill-based competencies for Victim Advocates. These skills also relate to the specialized needs for various types of crime victims. Many states have victim assistance academies to provide basic training. Professionalization of the field has also resulted in academic degrees as well as the National Advocate Credentialing Program.