Domestic Violence Response Teams (DVRT) were first authorized in New Jersey in 1987 through the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. When police respond to a domestic violence call, the officer secures the safety of the victim and other family members and offers the assistance of the DVRT.
DVRT volunteers respond at the time of crisis to help victims get through the “golden hour” of intervention. The sooner assistance is offered to the victim, the more empowered they are to address the domestic abuse in their life. Data shows that early contact between a DVRT advocates and domestic abuse victims is a leading factor in reducing recidivism rates.
The DVRT volunteer is specially trained to provide critical information at a very overwhelming time, so the victim has a clear understanding of their options. The follow-up process is particularly important if a temporary restraining order is granted and a court appearance is necessary to obtain a final order of protection.
The role of DVRT advocates:
- Gather background information from investigating officers to gain an understanding of the situation.
- Talk with the victim, providing an opportunity for them to talk about the incident in a non-threatening atmosphere. The DVRT volunteer can extend a limited counselor/client confidentiality privilege to the victim.
- Answer questions and provide clarification about victims’ rights and domestic abuse laws.
- Explain the restraining order process.
- Review the dynamics of domestic abuse with the victim to provide clarity of the situation.
- Assist the victim in assessing immediate needs for shelter, safety planning and children’s safety (if applicable).