Anita Stanley: Provincial services for victims of crime in Newfoundland and Labrador

A video interview with Anita Stanley, the Provincial Manager of the Victim Services Program for the Department of Justice within the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Anita describes how the province provides support to victims of crime and helps them move forward.

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"...Back in 1991, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador created the Victim Services Program, to meet the needs of adult victims of crime.

"...More recently, the program has expanded to support child victims and child witnesses, and help prepare them for cases that go to court.

"...When the Victim Services Program first started, it only had four offices across the province, but over the years, it's grown to 11 regional offices, with one provincial manager, a program supervisor, and 23 professionally-trained, front-line staff.

"...Anita Stanley, the Provincial Manager, explains their mission: Part of what I think "moving forward" means for Victim Services, is helping people to achieve the goal that they want.

When something traumatic happens in your life that you had no control over, I think you wonder if you're ever going to be normal again.

Whatever normal is.

Whatever your definition of normal is.

So I think one of the things that victims need to understand, is that it's a process, and it's a journey, and they need information and support along the way.

But they will get there, at the end of the day.

"...The program here is different from victim-oriented programs in other jurisdictions...

"... The Victim Services program in Newfoundland and Labrador is a system-based program.

And what I mean by that is that there don't have to be charges laid in order for an individual to avail of our services. can be referrals from the police, it can be referrals from the Crown, it can be referrals from any agency that is aware of our program.

"Victim Services has a really good working relationship with both police forces in our province.

"...While the police treat every victim with dignity and respect, their main purpose with a victim of a crime is to collect evidence.

So while they are extremely sensitive to victims, the reality is that the Victim Services Program can add to the relationship that they have made with the victim at that time.

"...The approach that Anita's colleagues take is to accept their victims' stories... not to judge them: "...Victims don't choose to be victims.

Something has happened to them.

Something has happened in their life that they had no control over, and they're left to put the pieces together at the end of the day.

"...So what we do is we try to normalize the situation, we try to let people know that it isn't their fault.

They aren't to blame for somebody else's actions.

We try to empower them to make decisions for themselves.

So we just want to let people know that they are normal, they're OK.

The situation might be crazy but they aren't; that things will get better.

"...For some victims, however, their needs are more serious...

"...for those who feel particularly traumatized and victimized, Victim Services coordinators can provide short-term and emotional support when the individual's going through a particular incident at a moment or going through the court process.

But for long-term intervention therapy we do refer on to the professional services in the community.

"...To help with their work, Anita's group also maintains close contact with its federal government counterpart...

"... The relationship that Victim Services Newfoundland and Labrador has with Justice Canada - particularly the Policy Centre on Victims Issues - is an amazing connection.

We turn to them for information and support regarding legislation, regarding information about the criminal code, and implications for victims of crime.

"...Another amazing thing that the federal government does is that they have the ability to provide funding to jurisdictions, and in Newfoundland and Labrador we've been extremely fortunate to engage in funding contribution agreements where we can access significant amounts of money.

So that we can complete projects that focus specifically on victims and that enhance services to victims of crime.

"...Success for Victim Services teams is on a case-by-case basis: "...Success can be when you see an individual who has been in an abusive relationship - you've seen that individual leave the relationship once, or five times, or ten times, and all of a sudden they leave for good.

And they build a life outside of that relationship.

And they take care of themselves and their children.

"...For all victims, moving forward means taking the first step, and reaching out...

"...I think what I would say to victims right now is that they may feel alone, but there are people out there who can help; that the situation that they're going through is scary, and they may not know where to go or what to do, but they can seek assistance, they can look for support, and that support can come in many different ways.

There are formal supports out there, like Victim Services programs, but there are also informal supports.

There are women's shelters, there are community groups, there are women's centres, there are family and friends.

To let you know that you don't have to go through this alone.

"...Victim Services teams, all across the country,

would very likely agree with Anita Stanley's final thoughts:

"...I think what we in the Victim Services world need to do is just keep doing what we're doing.

Keep making a difference in people's lives.

We need to ensure that we advocate for victims - victims of crime.

We've seen the evolution of victimization and crime.

As a society, we need to understand that we need to come together to make changes.

The police on their own, or Victim Services, can't make the changes.

We need everyone as a community to come together and recognize those issues.


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