FORT STEWART, Ga. - So often people see the Victim Advocates as the enemy - we get in the way, are too touchy feely or are Temporary Protective Order generators. These descriptions do not define Victim Advocates. We wear many hats and perform many different duties aside from direct victim services.

When working directly with victims, we provide crisis intervention, information of their rights as a victim, recommendations, resources and referrals. In addition to assisting the victim with their immediate needs, we also assist them in procuring a Military Protective Order, petitioning for a Temporary Protective Order or Stalking Order and liaison with the Chain of Command whether the victim is a service member or Family Member.

If the victim is in imminent danger or is afraid of her or his partner, a Victim Advocate can assist them with getting into a domestic violence shelter. In the event the victim cannot or does not want to leave, the Advocate will work with the victim to create a safety plan.

Victim Advocates also collaborate with law enforcement, Social Work Services, the Superior Court Judges and the chain of command to strengthen existing coordination and ensure that a victim can make an informed decision to decide the best course of action for him/her. We serve as non-voting members on the Case Review Committee and represent our victim's interests. Advocates also provide domestic violence prevention and awareness training to units and Family Readiness Groups.

The Army Community Service Victim Advocacy Program is victim centered, and ultimately the victim makes the choice of which course of action he or she wants to take. The Victim Advocate is there to make sure that the system's focus remains on the victim while empowering the victim along the way.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Together We Can End Domestic Violence: Act Now!