Leadership Center (NALC)

NALC offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

Join Today

Leadership Center (NALC)

NALC offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

Join Today

Leadership Center (NALC)

NALC offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

Join Today

Leadership Center (NALC)

NALC offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

Join Today

Leadership Center (NALC)

NALC offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

Join Today

Leadership Center (NALC)

NALC offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

Join Today

What is NALC?

The National Advocacy Leadership Center (NALC) is an online training and professional development center designed to support you at every step of your victim advocacy career. Whether you are a recent college graduate or an experienced advocate seeking a new challenge, NALC offers a wide variety of development opportunities to meet the growing and diverse field of victim advocacy.

Join NOVA as a Premier Member and access all of NALC’s benefits, including innovative online trainings, professional development tips, networking opportunities, job listings, and updates on best practices unique to victim assistance providers and allied professionals who assist victims of crime.

Who should join?

  • Anyone interested in exploring a career in victim advocacy, criminal justice, military victim advocacy, mental health, social services, law enforcement, or other allied professions.
  • Professionals who require flexible continuing education training hours in an easily accessible, on-line training classroom.
  • Seasoned professionals seeking best practices in victim advocacy, crisis response, and crime victim rights and services.
  • Victim assistance providers and other allied professionals looking to expand their victim assistance network.
  • NOVA Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) Alumni interested in pursuing advanced training.
Why should I join?

  • Access to NOVA Premier Members-Only Website: CEU Trainings, The NALC Career Center, networking opportunities, and informative updates on dynamic changes in victim advocacy.
  • FREE Admission to NALC’s Monthly Continuing Education (CEU) Webinars and Quarterly CEU Trainings for Victim Advocate Program Managers: Earn up to 24 CEU Credits/per year which can be applied to National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and/or DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP) Renewal.
  • The NALC’s Career Center: Career guidance, job listings and other essential information for new and seasoned victim assistance professionals.
  • NOVA’s E-Quarterly Membership Newsletter: Receive regular updates and other information on best practices, upcoming trainings and calls to action for victim assistance professionals.
  • Networking Opportunities: Attend the NOVA Premier Members-Only NALC Networking Reception at the 2018 NOVA Annual Conference, among other networking opportunities.
How Can I Join?

Become a NOVA Premier Member and you will receive FULL access to NALC benefits.

 

NALC Partners

The NOVA is grateful for the support and leadership of our NALC Partners. These victim service leaders represent the diverse and growing field of victim assistance. In collaboration with our partners, NALC seeks to promote and advance the professionalization and care quality of victim advocacy.

NALC KEY PARTNERS

Mai Fernandez, Executive Director
National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC)

Kim Pentico, Director of Economic Justice
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)

Jose Juan Lara Jr. MS, National Trainer
National Latin@ Network, a project of Casa de Esperanza

Heidi Notario, MA, Training and Technical Assistance Manager
National Latin@ Network, a project of Casa de Esperanza

Julie Schoen, Deputy Director
National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

Laura L. Dunn, Founder & Executive Director
SurvJustice

Meg Garvin, Executive Director
National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI)

Zoe Flowers, Program Manager
Women of Color Network Inc. (WOCN Inc.)

Jennifer Marsh, Vice President of Victim Services
Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN)

Dan Eddy, Executive Director
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB)

 

NALC ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

Cheryl Banks, Community Educator
Prince George’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center (DV/SAC)

Colleen Phelan, Victim Advocate
Pima County Attorney’s Office

Cindy Kuhr, Victim Specialist, Independent Consultant
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I)

Lisa DeGeeter (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), Executive Director
Harcum House, Child Advocacy Center of Fairfield County

Luis F. Bispo, (NVAA Fall 2014 Alum), DoD Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major
US Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

Vanessa Guyton (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), CEO/Executive Director
Consulting Experts & Associates, LLC

Mary-Justine Todd, (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), Founder and Executive Director
Women’s Crisis Care International (Bahrain)

Maricella Montoya Carter (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), Interim Executive Director
The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors

Lakisha Toussaint, (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), U.S. Army Major, Victim Advocate Volunteer
U.S. Army, Families in Crisis

Naticia Bryson (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), Criminal Restitution Specialist
Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

Cindi Haycox Wellman (NVAA Spring 2015 Alum), Program Director
Geauga County Prosecutor Victim/Witness Program

Innovative and Sequential Victim Assistance On-line Trainings

The National Advocacy Leadership Center (NALC) offers skill-based, sequential victim assistance training designed to build and enhance knowledge, skills and tools for victim assistance providers and allied professionals at all levels.

NALC MONTHLY CEU TRAININGS (18 CEUs/per year)
The NALC Monthly Webinar Trainings are offered FREE of charge to NOVA Premier Members. Monthly webinars provide victim assistance providers and allied professionals with information on best practices, model programs and emerging trends in victim advocacy. Check out our schedule of upcoming CY2018 NALC Webinars below.

NALC QUARTERLY CEU TRAININGS (6 CEUs/per year)
NALC offers Quarterly CEU Webinars for Victim Advocate Program Managers. These webinars are offered FREE of charge to all NOVA Premier Members. The goal is to support program managers with new knowledge and tools related to program development, evaluation and leadership. Quarterly CY2018 NALC Webinars Coming Soon!


NEW BENEFIT!

NALC Monthly Webinars will now qualify for Continuing Education Credits for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs and/or LCSWs sponsored through IVAT. Learn more!


MISS A TRAINING? All NALC CEU Webinars are recorded and available to NOVA Premier Members in the NALC Member-Only area of the NOVA Website.

Please contact NALC for more information: nalc@trynova.org.


BONUS WEBINAR!

In honor of National Cybersafety Awareness Month (October) we will be hosting a FREE webinar on Identity Theft and Cybersafety.  This 2-hour webinar will provide critical information on identifying common types of I.D. Theft; strategies for enhancing digital safety; and resources and tips for military victim advocates working with victims impacted by I.D. Theft.

EVERYONE, including members and non-members, are welcome to join us for this crucial topic.

Save the Date: Tuesday, October 11th, 12 PM – 2 PM EST, OR Thursday, October 23rd, 5 PM – 7 PM EST

NALC CEU CY2018 Monthly Webinar Schedule (18 CEUs/year)

Date
CONTINUING EDUCATION TOPIC
TRAINER / ORGANIZATION
TOPIC / TRAINER / ORGANIZATION
1/18/18
Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence: How can you help?

Cecelia Friedman Levin, Senior Policy Council, ASISTA

2/15/18
Understanding and Advocating for Victims of Financial Abuse

Kim Pentico, Director of Economic Justice, National Network to End Domestic Violence

3/22/18
Effective Victim Advocacy with Long-Term Clients

Colleen Phelan, Victim Advocate, Pima County Attorney’s Office

4/19/18
Identifying and Responding to Sexual Abuse Among Older Adults

Paul Greenwood, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego District Attorney’s Office

Julie Schoen, JD, Deputy Director at National Center on Elder Abuse

5/17/18
Working with Transgender Survivors: Core Information for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocates

Michael Munson, Co-Founder and Executive Director, FORGE

6/21/18
Preventing Strangulation in Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Violence Crimes

Gael Strack, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for Hope International and Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention

 

7/19/18
Advocating for Victims of Human Trafficking

Detective Bill Woolf

8/9/18
Interpersonal Violence and Animal Cruelty: Model Co-Sheltering Programs

Katie Campbell, Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator, Red Rover

9/20/18
Campus Sexual Violence

Chardonnay Madkins, Programs and Operations Director, End Rape on Campus (EROC)

10/18/18
Preventing and Responding to Teen Dating Violence

Dr. Alesha Istavan, Senior Director of Program Operations, Break the Cycle

11/15/18
VINELink Awareness and Education- Search and Register Training Webinar

Karen Adams, Senior Technical Trainer, Appriss 

12/13/18
Ethics in Victims Services

TBD

NACL CEU CY2018 Quarterly Webinar Schedule (6 CEUs/year)

 

Date
CONTINUING EDUCATION TOPIC
TRAINER / ORGANIZATION
TOPIC / TRAINER / ORGANIZATION
3/28/18
Overview of the Professionalization of VIctim Advocacy and the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)

Jeannette Adkins, Board Member, NACP

6/5/18
Where We Are with Enforceable Victims' Rights

Bill Jenkins and Jennifer Jenkins

9/4/18

TBD

12/4/18

TBD

NALC Career Center

We welcome you to explore the resources available in the NALC Career Center. The Career Center is designed to help you at every step of your career in victim advocacy. In these pages, you’ll find information from everything about how to become a victim advocate to advice from experts in the field. Future resources will include job listings, resume advice, and a mentoring program. Please check back often for new resources!

FAQ: How do I become a victim advocate

For current job listings please click here!

> How do I launch a career in victim advocacy?

Victim advocacy attracts a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about helping others, including recent college graduates, military members, lawyers, and many more.  “NALC’s Ask The Expert” column (found at the bottom of this page) highlights the many career opportunities within victim advocacy.

> What are the typical duties of a victim advocate?

Victim advocacy is a rewarding career or volunteer opportunity, but it is also a difficult one. You will regularly work with people who have been through serious trauma. Before committing, you will want to have a good understanding of which will be expected of you.
Regular tasks include:

• Answering a hotline for victims/survivors
• Being on call to support a victim/survivor who goes to a hospital for a rape kit exam (called “hospital accompaniment”)
• Supporting as victim/survivor during court proceedings
• Making community presentations on services and prevention

A victim advocate is there to support the victims/survivors and make sure their needs and wishes are heard by the many systems s/he will interact with following their victimization. Your job is to be the one person who has solely the victim/survivor’s interests in mind.

> What training or education do victim advocates need?

There is no pre-requisite degree or educational background specific to victim advocacy. An associate, bachelor or master’s degree in social sciences (e.g., social work, psychology, sociology, human services or criminal justice) is helpful, but not a requirement for pursuing a career in victim advocacy.  Many victim advocates hold degrees in unrelated fields, however have significant training and experience to prepare them for the work.

Experience in the field—including volunteer and/or paid experience—and a passion for helping others, are considered to be the most important “resume builders” for new victim advocates.  Continual training is also essential to providing new and seasoned victim advocates with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to provide sensitive and ethical services to all victims of crime.

Many states and communities offer victim assistance academies and other comprehensive trainings on the core competencies for victim advocacy.  The National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP) has pre-approved many of these training as meeting a minimum of forty hours of training on basic or foundation level topics for victim advocates.  For victim advocates who require a distance learning format, NOVA offers our innovative, 40-hour NOVA Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) on a semi-annual basis.

Seasoned victim advocates should pursue advanced trainings in their area of specialty.  Many national, state and local victim advocacy organizations offer conferences, trainings and webinars to provide victim assistance professionals with continuing education training in their area of specialty.  Amongst the many choices for continuing education, NOVA’s National Advocacy Leadership Center (NALC) offers 24 hours/year of continuing education webinars, including 18 hours/year for all victim assistance professionals and six hours/year for program managers.

> Where can I find trainings and courses to become an advocate?

The education and training requirements to become a victim advocate vary from agency to agency. Any position will require specialized training, often offered by the agency themselves. Training courses are typically at least 35 hours and offer information about the type of crime victim you’ll be working with, policies, procedures, ethics, self-care, and much more.
If you don’t have any particular agency in mind, there are several training opportunities, but be aware that you will likely need to complete additional training specific to your desired position.
National victim assistance academies include:
NOVA Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) – Pre-approved by the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP), the NVAA is a 40-hour, online victim advocacy academy. NVAA Graduates may apply for NACP Credentialing upon completion of the course.
• If you become a Premier NOVA Member, you will receive access to our National Advocacy Leadership Center and monthly CEU trainings for maintaining credentialing requirements.
The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime offers online training modules in four different sections: Basics, Core Competencies and Skills, Crimes, and Specific Considerations for Providing Victim Services.

> What credentialing is required?

The credentialing of victim assistance professionals is a relatively new development in the professionalization of victim advocacy. Emerging from the Crime Victims’ Movement, it was an incredibly important shift in the professionalism of victim advocacy. In 2003, the National Advocacy Credentialing Program (NACP) emerged as the first voluntary credentialing program available to crime victim advocates nationwide. NACP creates standards of behavior for all paid and volunteer victim advocates, requiring all NACP advocates meet a minimum training requirement and adhere to the NACP Code of Professional Ethics for Victim Assistance Providers.
Similar to other allied professions, victim advocates are increasingly pursuing professional credentialing through NACP, the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Certification Program (D-SAACP), and other state credentialing programs. While credentialing is not yet universally required, many civilian advocates choose to become credentialed, demonstrating their commitment to providing crime victims with sensitive, comprehensive and ethical services. Amongst military sexual assault advocates, credentialing is now a requirement for service

> What types of victim advocacy organizations are there?

Most of these agencies will likely have both paid and volunteer victim advocates. Paid positions are more rare, and often the best way to pursue a career in advocacy is to first volunteer with an agency with which you are interested in working.
You can find victim advocates in many types of agencies, such as:
• Non-profit organizations
• Hospitals
• Police departments
• District Attorney’s offices
• Military branches
• Colleges/Universities
• FBI
• Peace Corps
There are also other unique opportunities, such as RAINN’s online hotline.

> I am a survivor. Can I be a victim advocate?

Many victim advocates are motivated to enter the profession because of personal experiences. Survivors who choose to become victim advocates can be highly effective, empathetic victim advocates, however challenges can arise if a survivor has not had adequate time and support to heal from his or her own experience.
If you are a survivor of crime interested in becoming a victim advocate, ask yourself:

Are you at a place in your healing process where you are ready and able to support other victims of crime?

• While healing is often a life-long journey, you should be at a place in your healing process where your own personal experience will not interfere or influence your advocacy services. If you are unsure, speak to a trusted mentor, therapist or colleague in victim services whom can provide you with honest feedback.

Do you find myself re-living or re-experiencing your own crime when helping other survivors of crime?

• If yes, consider focusing on your own healing prior to pursuing a career in victim advocacy. You may want to speak to a therapist, counselor, spiritual leader or other trained professional whom can offer you essential support and guidance

Ask the Expert!


  • Laura Dunn
    Executive Director, SurvJustice

    Title: Executive Director
    Company/Organization: SurvJustice, Inc.
    Number of Years in Victim Advocacy: 10

    What initially brought you to victim advocacy?

    In 2004, two men sexually victimized me at the University of Wisconsin. After fighting without success for justice my story went public and created social and legal change across the country. As a results, I chose to continue with advocacy to ensure no survivor ever had to learn to be their own attorney after campus sexual assault.

    How did you select your specialty and/or career path within victim advocacy?

    I chose law over any other form of advocacy, because survivors are effectively tossed around within the criminal, civil or campus legal system. While there are attorneys everywhere, none are on the side of the victim or supporting them in achieving justice. I believed this is what lacked in the movement to end sexual violence. As a result of this belief, I went to law school and have been doing legal advocacy every since.

    What are some important lessons you’ve learned over your career?

    Never allow injustice. Ever. You may not get justice through the formal legal system, but there are other forms of justice, such as getting a law changed, taking a public stand, or otherwise confronting the issue head on. Justice is an essential part of both preventing violence in the future and restoring what was lost to a survivor by having community acknowledgment and accountability.

    What education, training or other experience would you recommend advocates seek?

    To be very honest, I feel that everyone should consider becoming a lawyer. There are too many survivors left at the mercy of the system and the system itself needs reforming. If I could encourage every passion advocate to get a JD and take to the courts, I think this country would change and justice become more common.

    What are you looking for in perspective hires? 

    Good writing skills and a writing style that advocates while properly highlighting the need for accountability. Often times we remove perpetrators from our phrases “She was raped” rather than “The perpetrated raped her.” We also reinforce victim blaming by using the possessive around harm, for example “her rape” or “her rapist.” I find that good advocacy starts with psycholinguistic framing to mold the argument the way it should be focused, on the perpetrator for accountability. The other is grit mixed with independent decision-making ability. I need tough staff attorneys who hold institutions to the letter of the law and the best interests of our clients.

    What is your best piece of advice for victim advocates?

    Know the rules of the system you are helping a survivor navigate. On a daily basis, I see schools wrongfully advise survivors about their rights and even sometimes advocates accept violations of federal law without knowing. You have to know the rules of the system the survivor must navigate to ensure access to rights, fairness, and overall success for the survivor. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know and point out that a survivor is entitled to rights she or he is not receiving.

    Do you have a specific person, group, or routine that helps keep you grounded?

    Yoga – yoga – yoga. I need a meditative space that allows me to physically work out my stress and turn my system off each day. It rejuvenates my mind and body to face this tough work and gives an inner sense of peace that balancing out the moments of challenge within this work.

  • Marsha Probst
    Director, Summit County Assistance Program

    Title: Director
    Company/Organization: Summit County Assistance Program
    Number of Years in Victim Advocacy: 10

    What initially brought you to victim advocacy?

    I felt compelled to pursue a role in combating the injustices of domestic terrorism following the bombing in 1995 of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma. It was the events of 9/11 that raised that concern to a higher level requiring action.

    I was working as a flight attendant for UAL and flying transcontinental flights from my San Francisco domicile to the cities that were targeted on the east coast. It made the entire event very personal and impossible for me not to pursue action to assist in the response. I just wasn’t certain how that would happen and blindly followed my heart.

    How did you select your specialty and/or career path within victim advocacy?

    After dismissing my flight attendant career, I went back to school full-time majoring in criminal justice. I wasn’t certain where it would lead me, but considered attending law school and pursuing a legal career in aviation law. That choice seemed obvious given my background in the industry, coupled with my experience as a private pilot.

    This was a large commitment because my two years of college from 1974-76 were not transferrable and I wasn’t getting younger. After three full years, without any breaks, I was finally ready to graduate. Through my involvement in the university’s law society, I invited the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah to speak to our group. Following his remarks he asked me what I intended to do after graduation and I told him, “I would like to attend law school.” In response, he advised me not to take that route and explained there are too many attorneys and too little work.   He then said, “Remember, large doors open on small hinges.” I recognized those small hinges when I read the job opening in the local classifieds for a victim advocate in Summit County.

    What are some important lessons you’ve learned over your career?

    There is no monetary compensation that can replace the personal reward and satisfaction of assisting others during one of their most trying times as human beings. Easing others anxiety and pain, cheering them on to independence and empowerment, imparting self-confidence and building self-esteem, easing their criminally imposed financial fallout through restitution, providing mental health resources, etc.

    I have learned to love and truly accept people from all walks of life, regardless of our differences.

    My children and grandchildren will always know that this is the legacy I am leaving them and what I found important in my mortal life.

    What education, training or other experience would you recommend advocates seek?

    I recommend every and any training and educational opportunity that can assist them in becoming a well-rounded advocate and not a “specialist” i.e., law enforcement advocacy training to learn on scene advocacy, prosecutorial to learn about courts, statutes, corrections and the overall legal system, community based opportunities to work at domestic violence shelters, etc.

    What are you looking for in perspective hires? 

    This is an interesting question because I have tried every type of screening I could conjure up :-). I have hired approximately 10 advocates through the years. My preferred criteria includes a four-year degree in criminal justice with a wish for Spanish speaking skills.

    During the last round of recruiting I devised a written test to determine if candidates have specific skills crucial to our office i.e., writing, spelling, computer and program skills, etc. I had over 100 qualified applicants apply through H.R. that met the general requirements, yet so many could not construct a sentence or explain the purpose or difference between Outlook, Excel or Microsoft Word. In the end I hired the person with all of those skills, along with her master’s degree in education. She had never worked in the criminal justice system. However, she caught on so rapidly because she wasn’t focusing on learning how to write or run computer programs and her emphasis was on learning how to advocate. The interview process was only necessary to determine level of commitment, oral communication skills, confidence and appropriate personality traits.

    What is your best piece of advice for victim advocates?

    Search your heart and if you have a drive and passion for helping other people overcome victimization and crisis then pursue or maintain a position in advocacy. Don’t worry about the traditionally low wages. Make yourself invaluable to the agency that hires you. I guarantee you will be rewarded in response.

    Do you have a specific person, group, or routine that helps keep you grounded?

    I do not want to offend anyone reading this because not everyone has spiritual beliefs or a conviction of a higher power. But, I do. I find myself praying for personal inspiration and guidance to help every individual that I encounter in my profession. Oftentimes, I find myself speaking words of advice and wisdom that come to my mind that I know did not originate there. It’s a humbling position to be in and reminds me that I am not the only child of God. He loves all of his children equally and evidently needs me to be a messenger to those in crisis who often can’t hear him above the overwhelming noise (crisis) they are facing.

  • Dr. Vanessa Guyton
    CEO/Executive Trainer, Consulting Experts & Associates

    Title: CEO/Executive Trainer
    Company/Organization: Consulting Experts & Associates
    Number of Years in Victim Advocacy: 5


    What initially brought you to victim advocacy?

    While serving in the military one of my Soldiers was sexually assaulted in her barracks room. I was her leader and friend who advocated on her behalf with our leadership.

    How did you select your specialty and/or career path within victim advocacy?

    After the experience with my Soldier, I still was not sure if victim advocacy was my intended career field. However, years later, I was recommended to become an Instructor for the Army’s Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Certification Course.

    What are some important lessons you’ve learned over your career?

    I have learned that I am never prepared, even when I think I am. There will always be a victim that you will meet or something that will occur during training that you didn’t expect. Additionally, that I will not always feel like I make a difference, but I must always remind myself that I do.

    What education, training or other experience would you recommend advocates seek?

    I recommend that advocates volunteer at their local centers, shelters, etc. to gain their most valuable experience. Additionally, attend every conference, webinar, and training that specializes in your field. While at these events, network and find a mentor who is willing to share their experience and give you career guidance. Facilitator training is an added bonus, especially if you are responsible for providing awareness and prevention training.

    What are you looking for in perspective hires?

    In my capacity as an Executive Trainer, during the interview process, I look for a bright smile, genuine care and concern for others, the ability to connect with people, and a desire to make a difference for victims.

    What is your best piece of advice for victim advocates?

    Always work towards becoming a subject matter expert and being the best advocate you can be. However, learning is a continuous process and there is always something more that you can learn. This includes keeping abreast of the latest laws, regulations, and training.

    Do you have a specific person, group, or routine that helps keep you grounded?

    I always pray before I give a presentation or speak with a victim and ask God to give me the words and wisdom to make a difference. I believe this increases my confidence and gives me peace. I also have a mentor who has been in the field for over 30 years.

  • Colleen Phelan
    Victim Advocate & Courthouse Dog Handler

    Title: Victim Advocate & Courthouse Dog Handler
    Company/Organization: Pima County Attorney’s Office
    Number of Years in Victim Advocacy: 10

    What initially brought you to victim advocacy?

    After college, I was looking for volunteer opportunities and the only response I got was the DC Rape Crisis Center in Washington, DC. I started the 3 month training with very little idea of what advocacy was and ended with a passion for the work. It took 6 years to make the leap into fulltime work in advocacy but I’ve never looked back.

    How did you select your specialty and/or career path within victim advocacy?

    I realized quickly into my initial advocacy training that so many people have been impacted by sexual violence. I believe rape affects everyone whether as a primary or secondary survivor. As I have followed my career path from crisis work to a mix of crisis/court advocacy, my sense of hope for the victim/survivors continues to grow. The path of healing is a lifetime process but the strides my clients make in 1 or 2 years fills is inspiring and rejuvenating. I feel lucky to do this work.

    What are some important lessons you’ve learned over your career?

    1: Being wrong is one of the most helpful tools an advocate has working with someone. It indicates the victim/survivor feels safe enough to correct you and they direct the conversation where they need it to go.

    2: It is a privilege when victim/survivors allow us in to their lives. We must always honor that relationship.

    3: Boundaries are fundamental and we are responsible for maintaining healthy ones.

    What education, training or other experience would you recommend advocates seek?

    My time as a SARS (Sexual Assault Resource Service) advocate was when I really became a strong advocate. I was alone in the hospital setting and had to figure out each situation. I learned that flexibility and patience will get me through anything. It was those 8-12 hours on a call that taught me how to authentically share space with victims/survivors and their families.

    What are you looking for in perspective hires?

    I am really interested in people’s motivations for doing this work. What drew you to advocacy? What makes you effective? Why do you want to work with victims of crime? I want to understand those questions. Ultimately there isn’t a ‘right’ answer but everyone needs to know why advocacy is the field for them.

    What is your best piece of advice for victim advocates?

    1: It’s not about you. One key element to any helping relationship is when the victim/survivor is angry or happy or somewhere in between- those emotions are not about you.

    2: Take Care of yourself. No one else can do it for you. This work is the most gratifying and soul crushing you can do. Sometimes both emotions occur on the same day, even the same moment. Learn to take care of yourself so that you can do this work for the long haul. It can chew you up and spit you out if you don’t.

    Do you have a specific person, group, or routine that helps keep you grounded?

    I’m lucky enough to be a Courthouse Dog handler and Blake, my facility dog, is my ever present companion. He is a constant reminder to take care of myself and he lets me know when I’m not. When I need alone time I enjoy long hikes, crafting and reading everything from cheesy tween novels to classics. My daily routine includes a mental check-in about how I feel emotionally and physically along with acceptance of where I am at in the moment.

  • John Dussich
    Professor Emeritus of Victimology and Criminology, California State University, Fresno

    Title: Professor Emeritus of Victimology and Criminology
    Company/Organization: California State University, Fresno
    Number of Years in Victim Advocacy: 42

    What initially brought you to victim advocacy?

    As a criminology Ph. D. student at Florida State University in 1973 working in the field of corrections, I realized that victims were being left out of the discussions and that the treatment of criminals was not matched with the need to also treat victims. It occurred to me that advocacy-ombudsmen units could be included within police departments to directly and immediately respond to victims offering them a range of needed services. I wrote a paper and presented it at the First International Symposium on Victimology in Jerusalem, Israel in 1973 which was very well received. Encouraged by this positive response I then followed it up by initiating a victim advocate program in the Florida state’s funding plan as part of a federal/state program (LEAA), and then nurtured a project to fruition at the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department which opened its doors January 1st, 1974. This victim advocate model spread rapidly to other cities around the state and region.

    How did you select your specialty and/or career path within victim advocacy?

    With a BS degree in Clinical Psychology, an MS in Criminology and Corrections, four years as a military police officer and being in a Ph. D. program in Criminology, I had long been aware of the gapping void when it came to responding to victims. Once the Ft. Lauderdale model took root and then spread to other cities, I quickly realized a new profession had emerged. This is when the idea of forming a national organization took shape. At this stage victim advocacy was not a career path, it was a dream path.

    What are some important lessons you’ve learned over your career?

    Early on, I and the others working for crime victims, realized that the most often requested and easiest to provide service was simply basic information about why they had been targeted, what was their role in the process, what could they expect from the criminal justice system and how could they help themselves recover. To help victims achieve recovery requires that their needs remain at the center of the advocacy process with the support of a professional armed with counseling skills, wisdom, human warmth, empathy and the conviction that recovery is possible.

    What education, training or other experience would you recommend advocates seek?

    I would recommend that at the undergraduate level advocates take a blend of basic psychology, sociology, criminal justice and social work courses with a solid internship in a victim centered agency during their senior year. At the master’s level I think a future advocate must understand underlying theories, master fundamental counseling skills, develop managerial abilities and understand how to conduct program evaluations. At the training level, specific certifications should be obtained in dealing with child abuse, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and working with marginalized persons. At the doctorate level the field of victimology needs college teachers and researchers to maintain the momentum of our discipline and to continue the flow of empirical facts for new policies and laws and to teach new generations of professional victim advocates.

    What is your best piece of advice for victim advocates?

    To help us be more effective in working with victims we must first get their trust and establish rapport with them, then we must find a way to understand them and enter their world, and finally we must speak to them from that perspective for the duration of our advocacy. Above all, we must individualize our services so that what we do with them honors their uniqueness and respects their journey.

    Do you have a specific person, group, or routine that helps keep you grounded?

    The person who helped me focus on service to humanity and with whom I identify was the Nobel Laureate German medical doctor, missionary, philosopher and musician Albert Schweitzer. His core expression which guided his life was “reverence for life.” Not only did his writings change the way I thought, but it changed the direction of my education from music to the social sciences, and helped me to focus on life (and victims) in the broader sense. To this day, that simple phrase touches the deepest recesses of my being and influences how I think and what I do.

This Training Center is available only to NOVA Premier Members.

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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I access NALC benefits?

All NALC benefits become available when you join NOVA as a NOVA Premier Member.

When did NALC launch?

NALC launched January 1, 2016! Our first NALC CEU Webinar training was January 21, 2016 on the
Neurobiology of Trauma.

Where can I access NALC?

NALC is accessed through the NOVA Premier Members-Only Website. This is where you will find on-line CEU trainings, the NALC Career Center, our E-Newsletter, and networking opportunities.

What trainings are available through NALC?

NALC offers both monthly Continuing Education (CEU) Webinars and Quarterly Victim Advocate Program Managers Training Webinars. A list of upcoming NALC trainings can be found here.

How will I access NALC Webinar Trainings?

NALC CEU Webinars are offered in a live virtual classroom accessed through Adobe Connect. Each webinar is offered twice a day (AM and PM) to accommodate victim advocates around the world.

Are NALC CEU Webinars eligible for Continuing Education (CEU) Credits?

Yes. NALC CEU Webinars can be applied to the 32 hours of continuing education training required for renewal of National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP) certification.

Professionals requiring CEUs for social work, counseling, or other professional credentialing programs should check with their national or state chapter for eligibility requirements.

What networking opportunities are available through NALC?

NOVA hosts a NALC Networking Reception for NOVA Premier Members at our NOVA Conference. NOVA Premier Members also enjoy a discounted registration rate ($55 discount/per person) to NOVA’s Annual Conference.

Additional in-person and on-line NALC networking opportunities are forthcoming.

I’m ready to register! When will my membership begin? When can I access NALC benefits?

Join NALC today as a NOVA Premier Member and access the benefits right away!

How long will my membership last?

The NOVA Premier Membership is an annual membership. You will receive a reminder to renew 30 days prior to the expiration of your membership.

We have several staff members who would like to join. Do you offer group discounts?

Yes. NOVA offers a group discount of 20% to groups of five (5) or more individuals from the same agency.
Contact NALC for more information on group discounts: nalc@trynova.org.

Tracking address: bunch-biahbg@webc.trynova.org (do not email this address)