City’s First Full-Time Victim Advocate To Serve RegionPosted March 9, 2023 in Administration
The City of Hilliard has hired its first full-time victim advocate, taking a regional leadership role to ensure that victims of violent crime in several suburbs are provided support and assistance.
Cynthia Newsome, who has served the City as a contractor victim advocate since 2019, brings decades of experience to the position.
Most recently, Newsome has contracted with nine central Ohio communities, including Hilliard, to provide victim advocate services. As part of the structure of her new position, those communities will now contract with the City of Hilliard.
This ensures that suburban municipalities have access to an experienced and highly skilled professional despite having smaller individual caseloads, said City Prosecutor Dawn Steele.
Marsy’s Law, which went into effect in 2018, reenforces the obligation for the criminal justice system to protect the rights of victims and provide a representative, such as a victim advocate, to explain rights and available protections.
Newsome is a graduate of Columbus State Community College, where she majored in paralegal studies. She describes her role as a “hybrid of legal and social work.”
“The court system can be very confusing. So, when a victim is thrust into that system after having experienced trauma, it’s important to help people through that process,” Newsome said.
Specific duties include answering questions about the court process and protection orders, gathering evidence for the prosecution, helping victims navigate safety planning, and keeping the victim informed. She will also assist the Law Department with administrative work, as needed.
Steele noted that, in a cycle of violence, victims often will return to their abusers because they feel it is their fault and have nowhere to go.
“Victim advocates have shown success in helping provide support in a victim’s greatest time of need, and one person showing compassion is sometimes what they need to break the cycle,” she said.
As a result of the new contractual relationship with the other suburbs, the City is also eligible for a grant to help cover the cost of victim advocate services.