SPRINGFIELD — Victims of abuse in Springfield now have another lifeline to help them deal with the legal fallout of their traumatic experiences.
Last year the department received a grant through the Office of Violence Against Women, and part of that money will be used to add employees from The Victim Center and Harmony House straight into the Springfield Police Department to assist victims in the aftermath of their abuse.
Between investigations, evidence collection, and the other numerous duties police are tasked with in a domestic violence or sexual assault case – additional guidance for victims of those crimes can be difficult for officers to provide.
Lt. Culley Wilson with SPD explains that now, they’ve added two people to provide that guidance.
“It’s another tool in our bag for victims, to assist victims, to help folks out there. It’s not something that we’re just going to be just sitting back and waiting people to contact (us). We’re going to proactively use these victim advocates and we expect them to contact victims, and get out there and talk to them,” Lt. Wilson says.
The Harmony House will specialize in help with domestic assaults, and the The Victim Center advocate will be there to help sexual assault victims.
Executive Director of The Victim Center Brandi Bartel explains what their roles entail.
“Victims will have an opportunity to interact face to face with a victim advocate if they don’t feel comfortable corresponding with law enforcement on their own. An increased level of compassion and empathy to those who are trying to navigate the criminal justice system.”
The legal side of things be a daunting task for someone going through abuse trauma, and those advocates are there to help.
“Hopefully it will empower victims to feel like they can make the best choice for themselves if they feel like they want to move forward,” says Bartel.
Lt. Wilson says these advocates may also help in child abuse or or assaults, and he hopes to add even more advocates to the force in the future.