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When emergencies happen, we usually think of law enforcement, medical services or firefighters as the ones who provide care. But for some, it is the help behind the scenes during the aftermath of the situation that has a lasting effect. After a person or a family has experienced a traumatic event, they may not have the resources or family members nearby to help. That is where the Victim's Advocate goes into action to assist with their needs.
A Victim's Advocate is a professional who is trained to support victims of crimes. Advocates provide information to those in need, along with emotional support, guidance to available outlets and filling out paperwork. They maintain contact with the victim to ensure that they are taken care of and provide them with any resources that may arise from the trauma.
Advocates work in many locations. Some serve in the criminal justice system, such as police departments, court systems, probation and parole departments, or even in prisons. Many advocates have academic degrees that prepare them to work with victims. They may have studied social work, criminal justice, education or psychology. Advocates often receive extensive training on the specific knowledge and skills that they need on the job.
Valarie Hilton is the Victim's Advocate for the City of Manning Police Department. She is also a Class III officer and Administrative Assistant for the dept. She describes her job as “very rewarding” when helping victims to overcome and recover from a bad situation. She is able to provide them with temporary safe lodging such as a women's shelter, transportation, food or clothing if needed. Hilton can give the victim a list of resources for almost any situation and provides emotional support to the victim to ensure that their needs are met. She also acts as a liaison between the police officer and the victim so that they are kept up to date about the case and any possible legal charges.
Hilton moved from Brooklyn, NY to Manning as an infant with her family. She is a graduate of Manning High School. She attended Kaplan University, and earned a Bachelors in Business Administration. She has done extensive training in various elements of her job as Victim's Advocate. Prior to being hired with the City of Manning PD, Hilton worked at Manning High School as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper for over 12 years. She is also the mother of two daughters and grandparent of 4 grandchildren.
Hilton says that she does love her job, but some calls are extremely difficult to handle. She refers to calls involving children as the most upsetting.
“When I am called in to a situation involving children, those make me think of my own children and grandchildren,” said Hilton. “I always do my best to help families in crisis to ensure that they are given support to help with the healing process that must occur with time. I am very thankful to serve in this position with Manning Police Dept to assist those who need a helping hand.”