This report summarizes the approaches used in Vermont in implementing the Victim Services 2000 (VS 2000) multiyear demonstration project in a rural area by developing and using relationships with the faith community to improve services to crime victims.
Representatives from victim services agencies in Vermont participated in Vermont VS 2000 and began their work by conducting a needs assessment that revealed clergy were frequently working with crime victims but often lacked the tools and training required to provide effective victim assistance. Vermont VS 2000 addressed this issue by developing the VS 2000 Faith Community Initiative, which engaged the community in victim issues in a variety of ways, such as regional training for clergy on victim issues and services. Vermont VS 2000 developed Building Victim Assistance Networks With Faith Communities in order to provide technical assistance to victim services professionals interested in collaborating with the faith community. The current report describes the VS 2000 Faith Community Initiative, the lessons learned, and other promising practices. It also focuses on issues related to victim assistance and recommends actions that can be taken by other victim service organizations interested in partnering with the faith community. In discussing victim needs from a faith-based perspective, the paper notes that victimization often causes victims to question their faith, which in turn impacts their mental health and approaches they use to cope with their victimization. Trained clergy who work with crime victims can provide the guidance needed for understanding how faith-based attitudes and strategies for dealing with their victimization can lead to personal growth from the perspective of their faith. Specific issues addressed in this report are victims' experience of trauma and bereavement, and vicarious trauma. 59 references and resources
Date Published: April 1, 2007