National Crime Victims' Rights Week
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) promotes victims’ rights every April, honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf, with the recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). This year’s theme – Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. – presents the opportunity to highlight the importance of providing needed services at the earliest stages of victimization. Early intervention is key in helping prevent both further victimization and involvement in the criminal justice system, thus addressing the cycle of violence and restoring hope for the future.
Since launching in October 2015, Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline (IDVH) has continued to be a vital resource for victims and survivors, family members and loved ones, and victim service agencies across Iowa. IDVH experienced a record high call volume in March, answering a total of 1,196 calls. Callers seeking services had been victimized in varying ways, but most prevalent was domestic violence. Other crimes included child physical abuse, stalking/harassment, sexual abuse, sexual abuse as a child, incest, human trafficking, assault, burglary, elder abuse, and more.
Advocates continue to be a compassionate, trusted resource for each caller, as well as for the individual programs throughout the state. Currently, all 13 state funded domestic violence comprehensive programs roll their phones to IDVH as needed, as well as many of the shelters in the state. Programs often roll phones during staff meetings, trainings, after hours and on weekends. When a victim calls in and needs emergency onsite assistance, IDVH advocates are able to connect them with advocates in their local service area who can respond to the call. If a victim calls in because they need someone to talk to, IDVH advocates are well equipped to fill that role.
What does the future hold for Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline? “The future of Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline has no limits,” shares Jessica Rohrs, Helpline Director. “The Helpline will continue to evolve to ensure that every victim gets the help they deserve. The staff will be undergoing more training so the Helpline can expand to assist callers of other violent crimes, making it more of a victim service call center. We’re also researching and developing new ways to reach more victims. We want to provide them with the avenues and resources needed to continue on their path to a violence free life. IDVH recognizes that there isn’t a one size fits all to victim services, so we’re exploring opportunities to serve victims in whatever ways we can, including alternatives to phone calls.”
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a time to celebrate progress and raise awareness of victims’ rights and services. It’s a chance to stand with IDVH and other victim service agencies as they help our families, neighbors, friends and colleagues whose lives have been forever altered by crime. Celebrate NCVRW with us and help promote that services are here and available to victims of crime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or some other form of abuse, call the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline at 1.800.770.1650. Services are always free and confidential. For more information on services, what to expect when you call, and more, visit www.survivorshelpline.org. You can also find Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline on Facebook and Twitter.