Medical and Legal Advocacy

Posted Friday December 04, 2015 by call4help

Medical and Legal Advocacy
WHAT IS A MEDICAL/LEGAL ADVOCATE?

A Medical/Legal Advocate are professionals specially trained to deal with victims of sexual assault.  They offer victims emotional support, information, help finding resources, and assistance in filling out paperwork.  Advocates offer victims information about the different options available to them and support victims’ decision-making. Advocates do not tell victims what to do. Advocates are committed to maintaining the highest possible levels of confidentiality in their communications with victims.

WHAT DOES AN ADVOCATE DO?

After a sexual assault, a victim has several decisions to make. A victim may call a rape hotline. She may go to the hospital emergency room. She may call the police. At each step, the advocate explains to the victim what will happen. She helps the victim understand her choices and the decisions she is making. She protects the victim’s right to be respected at all times. The advocate speaks up for the victim’s rights and wishes. She will help the victim get information about her case.

The advocate works with the victim when the victim is

  • Going to the hospital;
  • Reporting to the police;
  • Going to court.

During all times the victim can ask the advocate to talk with hospital staff, police and State’s Attorneys on her behalf.

AT THE HOSPITAL

An advocate can meet the victim at the hospital. The victim or hospital staff can call for an advocate. At the hospital, the victim may ask the advocate for support in several ways. If the victim wants her to, the advocate will:

  • Wait with the victim
  • Call the victim’s family or friends
  • Explain the medical exam and the evidence collection procedure to the victim
  • Stay with the victim during the exam
  • Help the victim get emergency contraception if the hospital does not provide this medication
  • Bring clothes for the victim to wear home from the hospital
  • Explain the role of law enforcement at the hospital and help the victim decide if she wants to talk to police
  • Call a locksmith if the victim’s home was broken into
  • Arrange transportation and lodging
  • Give the victim information about how Call for Help, Inc. can help after the hospital
REPORTING TO POLICE

If the victim chooses to report the attack to the police, the advocate can:

  • Go with her to report the assault
  • Explain how to report the assault to the police
  • Explain the victim’s rights throughout the police investigation
  • Go with her to identify the attacker in a police lineup.
GOING TO COURT

The State’s Attorney decides whether there is enough evidence to file criminal charges in a case. The State’s Attorney is the lawyer who prosecutes the attacker. The advocate will work with the State’s Attorney to keep the victim updated on the case and make sure the victim’s rights are respected. During the court process, the advocate can:

  • Go with the victim to the State’s Attorney’s office and be available to discuss how the case will be handled
  • Talk with the State’s Attorney about charges being filed
  • Explain the trial process to the victim, answer her questions and get information for her
  • Work with the State’s Attorney to prepare the victim to testify at the trial
  • Go to court with the victim when she testifies
  • Keep the victim updated on the case
  • Contact the victim’s employer to explain why she may need to miss work (or school) to go to court
  • Help the victim write a Victim Impact Statement to give to the judge if the attacker is convicted.

If the State’s Attorney does not file charges, it does not mean the assault didn’t happen. It only means there is not enough evidence to charge the offender.

FOLLOW-UP CARE

Advocates help victims after the initial hospital visit or meeting with police. An advocate can go with the victim to follow-up appointments with medical personnel at the hospital or doctor’s office. Advocates work with the hospital to make sure victims are not billed for hospital services. Advocates also help victims file for crime victim compensation funds administered by the State of Illinois. Advocates have access to the applications and will guide the victim through the process.

THE ADVOCATE’S LIMITATIONS

An advocate can assist the victim in several ways; however, there are certain things that the advocate can’t do. The advocate does not attempt to influence the victim’s decision to report or file charges. The advocate does not investigate the case or testify in the case

 

 

Leave a Reply