Advocates are professionals trained to support victims of crime. Advocates offer information, emotional support, and help finding resources and filling out paperwork. Sometimes, advocates go to court with clients. Advocates may also contact organizations, such as criminal justice or social service agencies, to get help or information for clients. Some advocates staff crisis hotlines, run support groups, or provide in-person counseling.
Advocates offer information about the different options available to them and support decision-making. Advocates do not tell clients what to do. Advocates are committed to maintaining the highest possible levels of confidentiality in their communications with clients. However, the level of confidentiality they can observe depends on their position, education, licensure, and the laws in each state. An advocate in a police department may have to share any information related to an investigation with officers. Yet an advocate at a domestic violence program may be able to keep most clients' confidences private. However, all advocates must report certain types of information to the authorities. For example, they have to report any type of threat to a person (such as clients threatening to hurt themselves or someone else), and they have to report the abuse or neglect of children. It is important for clients to ask about confidentiality rules before they begin working with an advocate.