The month of October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time set aside to acknowledge domestic violence survivors and be a voice for the victims. Domestic violence is prevalent in any community, including many places in Kentucky, and affects people of different gender, age and race.
“Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate between socio-economic status, race or location whether you’re rural or urban. One in four women and one in seven men will be a victim of domestic violence,” says Victim Advocacy and Support Justice Program Administrator Danielle Perkins.
In response to the high number of crime and domestic violence victims, Kentucky State Police (KSP) employed sixteen victim advocates to provide support services and resources to crime victims across the Commonwealth. KSP is among the first state police agencies to implement this program on a statewide basis.
The program, called Victim Advocate Support Services (VASS), launched in the fall of 2019 with a dual purpose. Advocates administer care to crime victims, or those involved in traumatic events, connecting them with immediate resources, such as mental health services, crisis intervention or legal support. These skilled professionals also serve as liaisons between law enforcement and the victim, simultaneously helping victims navigate the system while allowing detectives to focus more on the details of the case.
Since the inception of the program, KSP Victim Advocates have assisted 1,058 individuals since November of 2019.
“We provide our victims with the support they need whether it’s assisting with a protective order, navigating the court system, providing resources with community based services or offering emotional support,” adds Perkins. “In some cases, the best thing we can do for victims is listen.”
One advocate is assigned to each of KSP’s 16 posts throughout the state. They work with community partners to provide fair, compassionate and sensitive treatment of victims, families and witnesses from the investigative stage of a crime through a follow-up period after the case has been adjudicated. Providing these services in the first hours following a crime is not only vital to healing, it also helps victims secure available compensation funds for out-of-pocket expenses.
If you or someone you know needs assistance through the VASS program, please contact your local post and request to speak to the victim advocate. To find the nearest post, visit http://kentuckystatepolice.org/post-locations/.