Effective Cold Case Advocacy Techniques

As a case advocate for homicide victims’ families, I have the privilege of lifting their voices as I support their efforts to bring more awareness to their loved one’s unsolved cold cases.  For that that are advocates, or want to be, I think it’s important that your establish a few case advocacy techniques or best practices.

  • initial conversations with potential advocacy clients should center around a specific screening protocol. My initial conversations with a family often center around the following:

Understanding where the cold case is today and documenting the challenges they are facing

“Tell me more about the case and what you are facing right now?”

Clearly understanding what goals that family is trying to accomplish

“I would like to help you, tell me more about what you are hoping to accomplish?”

Keep things realistic, do not promise an outcome

This can cause a lot of trauma to a family who has already been harmed by the loss of their loved one.

“I maybe able to help you, here are some things I can do”

Stay in your zone of genius

Consider if you are able to help or not.  Do not promise to take on more than what you are able to do.  A referral to another advocacy organization may be the best option. Remember, we cannot do it all as advocates.

This is real life for them.  Remember, that everything you do as an advocate must be victim-centric

You are helping them deal with the unimaginable loss of someone they loved at the hand of another person or persons.  Being an empathetic listener is part of being an advocate.

5 ways to be a better advocate

  • Research the issue you are advocating for and develop a comprehensive understanding of it.
  • Network with individuals and organizations related to your cause to gain further insight.
  • Speak with those affected by the issue to understand their perspectives.
  • Utilize social media and digital tools to spread awareness and build support for your cause.
  • Advocate for policy change and work with other stakeholders to create positive, lasting change

If you are an advocate-What else would you add to this screening protocol?

If you are a family member- Do you have other suggestions for how advocates can work with you more effectively?

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