Advice for Advocates: Working With High-Intensity Cases

When sitting across from a person who has been the target of a vicious crime or talking with someone who is being watched, tracked, hunted or terrorized by a stalker, it is especially daunting for a victim advocate to find the right words, know the best resources or assist in a way that reduces the victim's stress and anxiety. These cases are draining, often frightening, and may bring up feelings of helplessness in the advocate. Empathy is an emotional gift to victims, but the best intentions for keeping appropriate boundaries may fly out the window when witnessing someone's extreme distress. Knowing how to anticipate and prepare for the intensity of this work is paramount for victim service providers.

Important Considerations for Advocates and Victims:

  • Stress is or can be: normal, necessary, productive, and destructive as well as acute and/or delayed, cumulative, identifiable, preventable, and manageable.
  • Trauma for crime victims involves:
  • What victims need from an advocate:
  • Beware of Common Pitfalls and Risks of High Intensity Work

    Remember CARPE DIEM: Creativity, Altruism, Rejuvenation, Productivity, Enjoyment, Discovery, Inspiration, Empowerment and Mastery.

    Please send your comments and stress relief tips to us at This article is submitted by Dr. Jennie Barr, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the Crime Victim Services Division.