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The Legal Advocates at the Women's Help Center would like to recognize law enforcement agencies throughout Cambria and Somerset Counties and the PA State Police for their hard work and dedication providing service and protection to victims of domestic violence and their children. Admittedly, these cases are volatile and can be very difficult and even dangerous to address. Victims are often scared and confused when officers respond to the scene of the crime. Many are not emotionally prepared to leave the relationship at that time. This creates obstacles and can cause frustration for law enforcement officials, who are attempting to execute their responsibilities and ensure the safety of the victim.
Even so, officers strive to deliver comprehensive, appropriate and timely services to victims as they enforce the law. As advocates, we support police efforts to end the potentially lethal cycle of violence. Confronting domestic violence as a crime (it is) and holding perpetrators accountable helps to strengthen the tool set applied to prevent a probable death.
We acknowledge the efforts of area Magisterial Judges and their staff for their insight in providing a private area for victims of domestic violence to meet with Legal Advocates, prior to a hearing. This collaborative effort ensures confidentiality and increases victim safety, away from the defendant location and results in an enhanced comfort level where victims can make informed decisions.
The Chief District Attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys and their staff work diligently to ensure that advocates have the opportunity to provide assistance to victims throughout the entire judicial process. Court cases can be frightening and complex for victims and are often viewed as long-term. Victims experiencing such feelings, can access advocates for information and support and gain a greater understanding of the process.
The Judges throughout Cambria and Somerset Counties are to be applauded for identifying the elements of the crime, for attentively reviewing victim impact statements, for knowing the importance of listening to victims during court appearances, and for understanding the devastating effects domestic violence has on victims and children.
It is important to note that Legal Advocates are available to provide crisis counseling, follow-up work, and court preparation and accompaniment upon the request of the victim or the judicial system. Advocates offer an array of direct services to all victims of domestic violence, women, men & children-all free and confidential. Legal Advocacy work has one clear and unwavering goal, to end domestic violence…one life at a time.