The Member Spotlight profiles the work and accomplishments of National Center for Victims of Crime members.
The Member Spotlight is on . . .
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Center for Family Violence Prevention
Greenville, North Carolina
National Center for Victims of Crime member since 1999
What is the mission of the Center for Family Violence Prevention?
The mission of the Center for Family Violence Prevention is to break the cycle of domestic violence while enhancing individual self-sufficiency and promoting healthy family relationships.
Tell us about your work
Our program serves anyone experiencing family violence in Beaufort, Martin, Pitt, and Washington counties in Eastern North Carolina. I work primarily in Pitt County and help victims of domestic violence file for protective orders and victim compensation claims, accompany and assist victims throughout civil and criminal court proceedings, and make referrals to community legal services. I also manage and maintain our program's Web site, keeping it up-to-date and informative to the public. When not providing court services, I raise awareness and educate the community about domestic violence and our services. I am constantly thinking of new ways to engage the public in breaking the cycle of domestic violence and fundraisers and other fun events (i.e., poetry readings, cell phone drives, children's activities) have become an ongoing project for me.
Is there an innovation in your program you think can be replicated in other communities?
Our Caring for Abused Teens in the Community and at Home (CATCH) program is a unique and replicable program. Though a partnership with Community in Schools of Pitt County, CATCH incorporates the "Love is Not Abuse Curriculum" by Liz Claiborne, Inc. We use evidence-based curriculum to: (1) increase teens' understanding of dating violence; (2) help students challenge misconceptions/beliefs about dating violence that "support" dating violence; and (3) increase help-seeking behaviors among students involved in abusive relationships. The program is designed for youth ages 10 to 21 and is taught by staff members and interns from the two organizations at the local middle schools and high schools in the community.
Also unique is our safe exchange and visitation center, the Family Center, the first of its kind in Eastern North Carolina. The Family Center provides a setting where parents can have a neutral place to exchange their children during visitation and are given the opportunity to develop healthy relationships with their parents. This exchange is designed to free parents from the stress of conflict with each other, especially in the case of separation, divorce, child custody, or domestic violence and can easily be replicated.
What have you learned from working with crime victims?
I have learned that each victim is unique and has different needs. Also, that the first interaction you have with a victim is the most important. It is the time to put all your worries or troubles you may have behind you and put the victim's needs, worries, and situation first. It is at that time you build the rapport and trust that is needed between service provider and victim to make the "process" that much easier for the victim.
What do you think are the most pressing needs of victims of crime?
Support, understanding, empathy, information, and resources. Empathy from the service providers is particularly essential so victims feel comfortable and at ease when going through the system. Victims also need resources and service providers in the community to help the victim as much as possible, to help her/him get back on their feet and on to their next step in life.
What do you think are the most pressing needs of those who work with victims of crime?
Those who work with victims need resources, continuing education, training, and community and organizational support. Anyone working with victims of crime needs to know their own community, what resources are available for victims, the current laws, how to work with victims in crisis, and how to handle unique cases. Community partnerships are important so victims have access to diverse sources of support and resources. Finally, organizational support is essential. Working for an organization with a strong mission and support system makes a huge difference; having a team to rely on for assistance, to stand behind my decisions, and guide me when I need it allows me to more effectively respond to victims. As Mohandas Gandhi said, "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."
Why are you a National Center for Victims of Crime member?
I am a member because the National Center for Victims of Crime provides recognition of victims and their needs. The National Center's resources are abundant, the networking opportunities never stop and notifications of upcoming trainings/events/conferences and funding opportunities are a bonus. As a member, I am also able stay updated about changes in legislation, which is extremely important to me.