Services and Program Glossary
Advocate: A person who provides help to domestic violence or sexual assault victims and survivors. Advocates may help victims and survivors obtain services and address the response from others systems (for example, medical, legal, housing, welfare, immigration, schools, and more). Advocates listen, help domestic and sexual violence victims and survivors consider their options, and help them identify and access resources.
Batterer’s Intervention Program: A group program for domestic violence offenders that is designed to hold them accountable for their abusive behavior while educating them about the necessity of treating partners with respect, ending the use of violent and dominating behavior, and being responsible for the safety of their current or past partner and their children.
Child Advocacy Center: A specialized program serving children who have been physically or sexually abused and their families. Bringing together police, prosecutors, social workers, child protection workers, health and mental health providers, Child Advocacy Centers assess, investigate, and offer a coordinated service response to the physical, emotional, and legal dimensions of child abuse.
Counseling: A free and confidential service provided by many domestic and sexual violence programs. Counseling, whether individual or in a group setting, offers victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence a safe place to tell their story and to explore and better understand their experiences.
Court Advocate: A person who helps victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence navigate the court system and better understand their legal rights and options.
Crisis Hotline: Often available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence as well as family members and friends can call a crisis hotline at anytime, anonymously and confidentially, for a number of reasons including: support, to report an incident, and to seek more information about resources and services in their area.
District Attorney: An appointed or elected government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal cases. District attorneys prosecute domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
Economic Empowerment Program: Many domestic violence programs provide assistance to victims and survivors in increasing their economic stability. These programs include job training, GED or other educational services, job search, and housing assistance.
Forensic Exam: A medical examination a victim or survivor of sexual assault may choose to have in which evidence of the sexual assault is collected from the individual’s body and clothing. During a forensic exam, treatment is also offered for any medical needs that arise from the assault. Including injuries, unplanned pregnancy, STD/HIV exposure Agreeing to a forensic exam does not mean that you will have to press charges against your assailant.
Legal Advocacy: In addition to assisting victims in obtaining civil protections against offenders (restraining orders), legal advocacy can assist survivors in making decisions about civil, probate, and criminal court actions, including reporting to law enforcement and its implications. Most legal advocates are not lawyers; however, they can help support a victim during legal procedures whether a lawyer is present or not.
Medical Advocacy: Another specialized form of sexual and domestic violence advocacy, medical advocacy can include accompanying a victim or survivor to a medical appointments, including at a forensic exam after a sexual assault. Medical advocacy also includes helping victims and survivors access and navigate other health care and mental health services.
Pedi-SANE: A sexual assault nurse examiner with particular expertise in working with child victims and survivors of sexual assault. Pedi-SANE programs try to be sensitive to the specific needs of children who have survived sexual violence. Pedi-SANEs collect evidence that can be used during criminal proceedings.
Residential Emergency Shelter and Safe Homes: A short term living situation for victims and survivors of domestic violence and their minor children. Emergency shelters usually offer a private bedroom and shared common space. Most shelters are in confidential locations. Residents in an emergency shelter work with an advocate to better understand their options and to identify and access additional resources, such as education services, substance abuse services, childcare, permanent housing, and legal resources. A safe home is an alternative form of very short-term emergency shelter for those victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Safety Plan: A plan created by a domestic violence victim or survivor, often with the help of an advocate, that considers options for leaving an abusive partner or creates an action plan for a victim in the event of another incident.
SAFEPLAN Advocate: In Massachusetts, these advocates are employed by a local sexual or domestic violence program and provide court advocacy, support services, and referrals throughout the restraining order process and to help make that process less intimidating and more successful. The SAFEPLAN program is currently overseen by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program: Also know as SANE. SANE nurses are available at many hospitals to perform a sexual assault forensic exam, which includes the collection of evidence in cases of sexual assault. SANE nurses work with victims of sexual assault providing expertise and support during the exam, explaining each aspect of the procedure and being respectful of what the victim or survivor has experienced. SANE usually works in partnership with an advocate from a local sexual assault program, who may provide ongoing support after the medical exam is completed.
Sex Offender Management: A program that works with sex offenders with the goal of stopping future sex offenses and assaults.
Support Group: A powerful service offered by many sexual and domestic violence programs. In a support group setting, victims and survivors are able to meet together to tell their stories and find support from others who have had similar experiences.
Transitional Housing: Longer-term housing for victims and survivors of domestic violence and their children. The length of stay varies, but in most programs, residents have a private room and shared common space. Many programs provide support services to help survivors stabilize their lives before moving on to permanent housing.
Victim/Witness Advocate: Victim/Witness Advocates are employed by the office of the district attorney in each county. Their role is to provide information, support, and advocacy for witnesses (including the victim of the crime) and their families throughout the criminal justice process. Because victim/witness advocates work for the DA, they do not have the same confidentiality protections as advocates within sexual and domestic violence organizations.