Texas Victim Services Association

 A professional organization for Victim Service Providers

Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics for Victim Advocates


      • I will learn and adhere to all federal, state, and local laws that relate to the client population I serve.
      • I will learn and adhere to the policies and procedures of my agency or organization. If those policies or procedures are in conflict with this Code of Ethics, I will seek to resolve the conflict through the designated chain of command.
      • I will refer to Achieving Excellence: Model Standards for Serving Victims & Survivors of Crime published by the Office for Victims of Crime and incorporate the standards into my organization’s policies and practices as appropriate, based on the interests, priorities, and needs of my program.
      • I will strive to be trauma-informed and victim-centered by understanding the physical, social, and emotional impact of trauma on the individual, as well as the professionals who serve them.
      • I will share my victim assistance knowledge and experience with other paid and unpaid victim assistance providers.
      • I will obtain basic victim services training and continue to increase my knowledge and skills through in-person conferences, victim assistance academies, and workshops, as well as independent study such as webinars, consultation, and reading to improve the quality of my service to clients.
      • I will attempt to be aware of my own wellness issues and seek to resolve challenges through supervision, consultation, self-care, and/or treatment.
      • I will not provide victim services while impaired by medication, alcohol, or other chemicals or while experiencing a mental or physical condition that impairs my ability to provide quality services.

Professional Responsibility

      • I will conduct relationships with colleagues and other professionals in such a way as to promote mutual respect, public confidence, and quality services.
      • I will use courteous and respectful language and behavior in expressing concerns about controversial matters.
      • I will provide support, guidance, and assistance to those who are new to the field of victim services.
      • I will represent and seek to serve the best interests of the entire field of victim services and not just the specific interests of my specialization.
      • I will not misrepresent my academic credentials, professional credentials, or professional title to clients or to the public.
      • If a licensed professional, I will be primarily bound by the Code of Ethics of my profession and secondly bound to this Code of Ethics if they are in conflict.
      • I will not serve clients beyond my level of expertise or attempt treatment methods for which I have not been trained.
      • In situations where I believe the best interest of the client I serve is in conflict with agency policy, I will make an informed and appropriate referral to another service provider.
      • I will provide appropriate resources and referrals for colleagues to access services if or when these colleagues become victims of crime or trauma.
      • I will report to appropriate personnel the conduct of any paid or unpaid colleague or professional I believe is in violation of this Code of Ethics.
      • I will use public and private funds entrusted to my use according to my organization’s policies and procedures.
      • I will report to appropriate personnel any irresolvable conflict I believe is affecting my ability or the agency’s ability to work respectfully with other colleagues or agencies.

Respect for the Rights and Dignity of Clients

      • I will respect the client’s right to self-determination, including choices about personal safety, accessing resources, and perpetrator accountability.
      • I will respect and attempt to protect the client’s civil rights, constitutional victims’ rights, and statutory victims’ rights.
      • I will respect the dignity of all people and not discriminate against any client on the basis of sex, race, color, age, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, political beliefs, marital status, mental or physical ability, economic class, or any other discriminatory basis.
      • I will refrain from judging clients on the basis of their past behavior.
      • I will adhere to the highest applicable standards of privacy when handling confidential information of clients whether or not the information was acquired before, during or after the course of the professional relationship.
      • I will seek to resolve any conflict between my client’s best interest, agency policy, and the Code of Ethics in the manner most likely to adhere to the Code of Ethics.

Integrity in Relationships with Clients

      • I recognize my primary responsibility is to serve the best interests of the client.
      • I will avoid conflicts of interest by providing services and making referrals based on the best interests of the client. I will disclose any potential conflict of interest to the client.
      • I will respect the client’s right to privacy and confidentiality subject to applicable exceptions including child and elder abuse, suicidal or homicidal threat, and legal subpoena. I will explain these exceptions to the client early in our relationship.
      • I will not reveal identifying information about a client to the public without written permission of the client or a legal requirement to do so.
      • I will not engage in a personal relationship with a client (dual-relationship) that would exploit the client such as accepting substantial gifts, exchanging services, or offering special privileges.
      • I will not engage in verbal or physical sexual relationship with a current or past client or the client’s immediate family member.

Use of Technology

      • I will keep apprised of the types of technology available and research best practices, risks, ethical challenges, and ways of managing them.
      • I will adhere to privacy and security standards in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations relevant to the population I serve, such as but not limited to HIPAA and the Texas Medical Privacy Act.
      • I will take reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of information when sharing with other parties electronically or storing in the cloud.
      • I will take steps to reasonably ensure I maintain clear professional boundaries when using social media.
      • I will take reasonable steps to prevent client or client family members’ access to my personal social networking sites and should not post personal information on professional websites, blogs, or other forms of social media, to avoid boundary confusion and inappropriate dual relationships.
      • Although victim assistance providers have a right to freedom of speech, I will be aware of how my personal and social media communications could affect professional relationships and my agency.
      • I will encourage my agency to establish clear social media policies to provide employees and volunteers with guidance on how to maintain professional standards, including protection of client confidentiality, maintaining appropriate boundaries and the use of respectful language.

Social Responsibility 

      • To the degree it is allowed by law and agency policy, I will seek to serve the larger public interest by working collaboratively with agencies, organizations, and the public to improve systems impacting victims of crime.
      • I will advocate to improve the systems impacting victims and survivors of crime.

Approved by the 2007 TVSA Board of Directors. Revisions approved by the 2020 TVSA Board of Directors

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