Lesson Five: (Continued)
Expectations of Service Providers Role
Whether service providers work through a police department, a
prosecutors office, or a private agency, there will be differing
expectations among victims of that providers role and scope of
responsibilities. The potential discrepancy between the providers
and victims expectations can be compounded when the interaction
takes place across cultures.
For instance, some people may expect that the service provider will
offer very holistic and broad assistance, e.g., providing transportation,
assisting the victims with past due bills, participating in a parent-teacher
conference, inviting the victim to dinner, helping them learn English, or
accompanying them to family gatherings.
Others might expect that the service will be much more narrow and
targeted than it is, e.g., talking only about the crime and the legal
proceedings. If conversation strays to the emotional impact of the crime,
family coping strategies or potential difficulties with money, some victims
might feel embarrassed or exposed. These differing expectations can result
in misunderstanding, disappointment, defensiveness, anger, and a breakdown
Grieving and Healing Processes
Culture is central to the process of grieving, expressing pain and fear,
and healing. Those who work with victims are often not aware of the variety
of paths to healing. All crisis intervention methods and counseling
modalities are based upon specific philosophies of suffering and healing.
Approaches that are derived from conventional Western theories are most
prevalent in victim services.
For example, empowering a battered woman usually consists of building
independence and self-sufficiency. A battered womens program for
Asian women in San Francisco was criticized for nurturing dependent
relationships. In fact, according to Brian Ogawa, author of Color of
Justice, one of the most painful ramifications of leaving an abusive
spouse for many Asian women is the feeling that they are disconnected
and cut off from a community. This program sought to build new connections
and provide women with a support network and sense of fellowship.
Conceptions of Privacy
Many people feel that certain types of crimes should be dealt with within
a family or community. The most common examples of this are sexual assault
and domestic violence: Victims may feel that sexual assault is an
issue to be resolved by the family, the clan, or the ethnic or racial
community, not by professionals or public agencies.
Victim assistance providers must acknowledge that there are times when this
approach is best for the victim and family. Whats important is that
victims get what they need and do not suffer needlessly due to lack
of support, knowledge or resources. If victims seek out services, it is
important that those working with them do their best to respect the
victims sense of privacy.