The Office of Victims Advocacy (OVA) was formally established in 1985, to provide enhanced assistance to crime victims, as mandated by KRS 421.500, the Victims' Bill of Rights. OVA staff represent the Attorney General's Office throughout the state, providing a direct conduit between local victim services organizations and this office to promote the awareness of victims' rights.
What does the Office of Victims Advocacy do?
With victims at the core of our work, we strive to:
- Assist victims and their families understand their rights and help them get the support they need to recover from the trauma of crime.
- Strengthen victim service systems by providing training, legislative and research services, educational materials, project development and technical assistance.
- Improve victim-centered, trauma-informed investigation and prosecution by providing training, resources and technical assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors.
With a victim-centered approach OVA seeks to minimize traumatization associated with the criminal justice process by providing the support of skilled victim advocates and experienced staff who empower victims as engaged participants in the process and beyond (see Survivors Council below).
Advocacy – Conflict Cases
Sometimes the local Commonwealth's Attorney is unable to prosecute a case due to conflict. In these cases, the Attorney General (via the Office of Special Prosecutions) will prosecute the case. Advocates can provide:
- Information on the criminal justice system and notification of court proceedings
- Accompaniment to court proceedings and attorney interviews
- Assistance filing for victim compensation and restitution
- Referrals to community resources
- Guidance with victim impact statements
Advocacy – Cases on Appeal
The Attorney General handles all appeals in criminal cases. OVA works directly with victims with cases on appeal providing:
- Notification to victims of the right to be present at relevant proceedings
- Accompaniment to court proceedings
- Explanation of the victim's role in the judicial process
- Explanation of the courts' decisions
Resources and Referrals
We often get calls from victims who need help but can best be served by other agencies or groups. We maintain an up to date listing of victim serving agencies so that we can make appropriate referrals when warranted.
Trauma Informed Policies
Becoming a trauma informed agency means making a commitment to changing the policies, practices and culture of an entire organization. OVA works with other human service providers, government agencies, the legislature, to model best practices in trauma informed service delivery.
Education and Training
OVA is committed to enhancing efforts that serve victims directly. We provide specialized professional development training to advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors to improve their response to victims.
OVA is dedicated to continuously improving response to crime victims by identifying emerging needs and gaps in existing services, enhancing the skills and abilities of service providers to better meet these needs, and promoting greater public awareness of the issues victims face. OVA legal and professional staff provide expertise in sexual assault, violence against women prosecution, child abuse, human trafficking and related crimes.
Advancement in improving the treatment of crime victims is due largely to the efforts of individuals who have turned their victimization into strength for positive change. Via the recently formed Survivors Council, victims and survivors of victims of homicide, rape, child abuse, domestic violence and other serious offenses have transformed their experiences into a channel for ensuring that victims of similar types of crime receive a voice in the criminal justice process, meaningful assistance, and compassionate treatment.