Assembly bill aims to strengthen advocacy for domestic violence victims

By: - March 2, 2023 3:19 pm

The bill aims to professionalize victim advocacy. (Photo: Alejandra Rubio)

The Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee Thursday heard testimony on a bill that would standardize training that victim advocates for domestic and sexual violence would receive in the first step to help professionalize the role.

One in three women and one in four men will experience physical violence in their lives and one in five women and one in fifteen men will experience sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Victim advocates help those who experience a crime by giving information on legal and community resources, offering emotional and mental health support, assisting with court statements, and more. But there is no statewide standardization on the training they go through. 

The bill was introduced on behalf of the attorney general, and the Assembly Judiciary Committee is the primary sponsor. 

“These things are happening, hit or miss in certain places under certain advocacy organizations already,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said. “What we’re trying to do through this bill is to standardize a core group of items that need to be discussed at all training capacities.” 

Those items include ethics, relevant laws about domestic and sexual violence, and trauma-informed care as well as increasing the training a victim’s advocate must complete from 20 hours to 40 hours.

The bill aims to standardize the core topics of victim advocacy while allowing each service provider to integrate its own unique services, Serena Evans, the policy director at the nonprofit Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCEDSV), said at the hearing. For example, what a victim advocate at a domestic violence nonprofit in frontier Nevada needs to do to earn the trust of a survivor can be completely different from what a victim advocate in Las Vegas would do, but the core training will be used as a common ground. 

NCEDSV provides education and support for frontline organizations that address domestic and sexual violence in the community. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, Crisis Support Services operates a free and confidential domestic violence hotline at 775-221-7600 or text SASS to 839863. 

For more information on domestic violence signs, visit: cssnv.org/domestic-violence/

At the meeting, Democratic Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said that she would love to see victim advocacy professionalized and offered at community colleges, but noted that training differences don’t apply to other professions like attorneys or law offices based on where they are located.

Ford said the bill would standardize the basic training for victim advocates while giving them the ability to specialize in areas that are unique to the population they serve, similar to lawyers who practice water law in Nevada. 

Whether or not the training would be transferable to different jobs is up to the discretion of the employer, said Evans at the meeting. There is no cost to the training for victim advocates.

“This bill that’s being introduced today is the start of a process of professionalizing victim advocacy, so there is hope over the coming years [and] coming sessions to have a certifying agency,” Evans said.   

No action was taken beyond the bill being heard by the committee.  

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Camalot Todd
Camalot Todd

An award-winning, investigative and enterprise reporter, Camalot Todd has over seven years experience in print, digital, radio and TV journalism.