The Victims of Crime: A Social Work Response: Building Skills To Strengthen Survivors project enhanced professional social workers’ capacity to respond to adult victims of violent crime. The project raised awareness of the rights of and services available to crime victims among more than 29,000 NASW members in Alaska, Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. Professional social workers received information about crime victim assistance through newsletters, Web sites, and direct training.

The profession of social work and the victim assistance field share much in common, including the knowledge, skills, abilities, and values necessary to assist and empower vulnerable people. According to seasoned victim assistance workers, the field is professionally challenging, stimulating, rewarding, and satisfying. Social workers whose specialties range from clinical to community practice will find this a field that uses their talents to facilitate individual, group, organizational, systemic, and community change.

The impact of seeing the cruelty that some human beings can inflict on others, however,should not be understated and is a contributing factor to the secondary trauma experienced by staff and volunteers. Although the field may not be appropriate for everyone, many professional social workers may find a career in victim assistance the right fit for them.

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The Victim Assistance Field and the Profession of Social Work
March 2006