Victim Support Team (VST)

The Victim Support Team (VST) provides on-site crisis intervention and support to domestic violence victims at secured crime scenes.  The program addresses the gap in services for domestic violence victims and their children in between the time patrol officers respond to a call, and the time that advocates, detectives, and prosecutors make contact with the victim for follow-up.

Funding from the Seattle Police Foundation provides training for VST volunteers, builds and enhances relationships with citizens and other domestic service providers, and supports emergency services that VST volunteers provide to victims.

Your support of Seattle Police Foundation provides clear, measureable results for making Seattle safer:

  • The presence of community VST volunteers helps break isolation and makes victims of domestic violence feel more supported by the community
  • Victims of domestic violence often feel more comfortable making statements to police officers with support from VST, which supports the prosecution of domestic violence crimes
  • With the assistance of VST volunteers at domestic violence calls, patrol officers are able to focus on the investigation. Additionally, patrol officers have the ability to respond to other 911 calls while VST volunteers address the victim’s needs

In order to become a VST volunteer, one must complete the mandatory 50 hour training academy, focusing on information necessary to conduct the work. Training includes crisis intervention, police radio, geography, overview of the criminal justice system, trauma counseling, working with children, and personal safety. With ongoing trainings from various community agencies, SPD is continually increasing volunteers’ knowledge of available services, while also forming a lasting partnership with these providers.

In 2017 VST received a total of 1098 reports.  During these interventions, there were 101 children present and/or received support and resources. 

VST Volunteers spent 236 weekend hours providing intervention services to victims either in person or over the phone.   The VST Follow-up Advocate spent 168 hours talking with 356 victims.  

VST put families into hotels for a total of 15 nights.  Twenty-eight families received gift cards for groceries and other emergency items.  Forty-seven families received clothing, food and baby items.  One family received a round trip train ticket to/from their hometown so they could testify against their attacker.  Nineteen families received taxi vouchers so they could be transported to a safe location out of the Seattle city limits.  VST paid for 1 family’s storage unit, while relocating to safety.  One family received services from a moving company to help her relocate. 

Volunteers spent a total of 2,460 hours receiving classroom training.  These volunteers worked a total of 3,476 hours while on shift. 

Story highlighting Impact:

VST worked with a victim who had been living in homeless shelters with her abuser. In 2014, her back was broken by her abuser. She told the VST volunteer that she had recently shaved her head so he could no longer drag her by her hair. As her abuser had never allowed her to own a phone, she had to rely on others staying in their tent encampment to contact the police when the abuse got particularly bad. This last time, he assaulted her to the point of unconsciousness. VST met with her in the hospital while the suspect was still at large.

During the intervention, she revealed that she had a friend outside of Seattle who was willing to take her in, however she had no way to get there.  VST provided a bus ticket for her the next day. VST was also able to provide a HopeLine phone and a warm bed for her to sleep overnight with the use of a motel voucher.

The DV Detective assigned to the case assisted in getting photo identification for the victim, as her abuser had cut up her ID in the weeks prior. The next morning, the VST transported her to the bus station and ensured that she got onto her bus safely. Later, VST learned that she was able to access a DV shelter and advocacy in the community where she was relocated.

Foundation funds provided a bus ticket and motel voucher, expediently ensuring the victim didn't go back to her tent and into the abusive relationship. She has a phone to contact resources, friends, and stay in contact with the prosecutors, as she assists with the prosecution of her abuser.