"I’ve always wanted to help people in every capacity, and work in a field where I can make an impact." – Javier
December 13, 2017
At noon, Javier begins his shift at the 47th police precinct in the north Bronx. He starts by sorting Domestic Incident Reports (DIRs) – he reviews about 45 of them a day. These reports document the details of a domestic violence incident that the police have responded to. He calls each client, identifying himself as a domestic violence advocate from the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP). CVAP is a partnership between the New York Police Department (NYPD) and Safe Horizon. Advocates help crime victims navigate the criminal justice process, address safety concerns, explore options, and connect them to other services. Two advocates are stationed in each precinct; advocates that assist victims of various crime and advocates like Javier who are solely dedicated to helping survivors of domestic violence.
“Sometimes people aren’t able to speak with officers because they may feel intimidated,” Javier explains. “CVAP gives crime victims the chance to speak with advocates like me. Advocates can be a voice and are able to link them to services at the onset of the incident. With CVAP, you have someone calling you after an arrest to check in with you.”
Javier’s Passion for Victim Services
Javier first started as a clerical intern at Safe Horizon’s Bronx Criminal Court program. Since he is bilingual in English and Spanish, Javier was also able to help Case Managers communicate with Spanish-speaking clients. The internship sparked his passion, “it’s something I can’t explain to this day, but something drew me in. By July I knew I wanted to work here past my internship.” Javier worked his way to become a Case Manager and was able to guide clients from crisis to confidence.
“By no means is this job easy, but it’s gratifying to help victims of abuse. I help empower them to do what they need to get better and guide them to the resources they need. From the courts to the precincts, they left knowing that someone was there to listen to them outside of the criminal justice realm. That’s what’s has kept me here for 5 years.”
How Javier Helps Domestic Violence Victims
Javier is extremely careful to practice safety precautions when contacting a victim of domestic violence. Since domestic violence is about power and control, the abuser is often close-by and monitoring their behavior.
“When I call a domestic violence victim, I ask if they are safe to speak at this time. If they are, we talk about the status of the incident and any arrest updates. If the domestic violence victim is not safe to speak, I try to give them my information so they can call me back. If there’s any sign that the abuser is near, I ask them to hang up. Sometimes they call back and if they don’t, I reach out to them again the next day.”
Javier says helping domestic violence victims differs from helping other crime victims because there is an emotional aspect behind the crime. “You have to consider that the other party is someone close to the victim. You have to understand that they care about that person. You have to put your own ideas aside because when they leave your office, you don’t know how what you said could affect them, possibly in a negative way.”
The other side of being an advocate entails working with law enforcement officials. That’s when his previous experience being a case manager at Bronx Criminal Court program comes in handy. “While working at the court program I used to talk to clients 1-on-1 which helped me become comfortable advocating on their behalf within the criminal justice system.”
Making a Difference for Survivors
Javier is proud to be part of this groundbreaking citywide program that unites law enforcement and victim advocacy to help victims of crime and abuse obtain justice and peace. He encourages survivors who face challenges such as immigration status, language barriers, or their gender identity to reach out for help. Javier is here to say all are welcome. “Because you’re an immigrant doesn’t make a difference. Whether blue, yellow, pink, immigrant or U.S. Citizen, it doesn’t matter, we will help you.”
CVAP advocates are currently in 55 precincts and will expand to all NYPD precincts by the end of 2018.