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7 Ways to Build Strong Relationships between Prosecutors & Victim Advocates

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7 Ways to Build Strong Relationships between Prosecutors & Victim Advocates

A strong relationship between prosecutors and victim advocates provides support for both victims and prosecutors. Just as with any relationship—it requires ongoing attention.

The APA Domestic Violence Prosecution Committee brought together prosecutors and victim advocates from three jurisdictions (King County, WA; Alleghany County, PA and New York County, NY) to share how they have developed and fostered strong relationships. Here are the 7 key takeaways:

1- Embrace Teamwork: View victim advocates as part of the prosecution team, not support staff, and commit to achieving justice through teamwork. Recognize that there will be times when your objectives are not aligned and welcome the “healthy tension” that may require tough conversations.

2- Define Roles and Responsibilities: Write down your vision and expectations for working together up front. Define each role clearly—agree on what it is and what it isn’t. APA has created this roles and responsibilities of victim advocates check list to support this effort.

3- Open Communication: Prioritize clear and honest communication. While advocates may not be able to disclose everything to the prosecutor, the advocate can be a helpful messenger when communicating to the victim. Prosecutors and advocates should discuss cases openly, whenever possible.

4- Integrate Teams: Ensure victim advocates are integrated in the prosecution team. This means communicating from the outset, as part of the onboarding process for both attorneys and advocates, that working together is essential to doing both jobs effectively. Prioritize face-to-face interactions to build relationships and evaluate effective collaboration in performance reviews.

5- Address Power Imbalances: It’s important to remember that advocates are there to support victims, not prosecutors, which can lead to power imbalances. Senior prosecutors should guide and monitor working relationships, stepping in as needed. Conflicts can be positive learning opportunities.

6- Focus on Data: When possible, track and share the outcomes of prosecutor/advocate partnerships to show the impacts of successful collaboration on victim satisfaction and case outcomes.

7- Foster Respect: Respect each other’s role. Show the victim a united front with clear roles that the victim understands. Celebrate the wins together and support each other through losses.

Watch the full webinar here.

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