Each October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month shines light on domestic violence issues and provides information to victims as well as the public about tools and resources available. A staggering number of Americans experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. These victims and other victims of crime have a new resource available, keep reading to learn more.

The New York Crime Victims Legal Network (CVLN), developed by Empire Justice Center, Pro Bono Net, and SUNY Albany Center for Human Services Research, recently launched the Victim Compensation Online Claim Application Guide and the Victim Compensation Claim Navigator on NY Crime Victims Legal Help (crimevictimshelpny.org). The Guide and Navigator were created to ensure that eligible crime victims are successful in submitting their applications for crime victim compensation through the New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) Online portal.

The Victim Compensation Guide offers tips and reminders to help victims with the application process. The Navigator was created to help crime victims determine if they are eligible for victim compensation and the type of claim they can apply for. “We learned from OVS that a common mistake people were making when applying for victim compensation was filing the wrong type of claim. So, we wanted to make an easy-to-use tool that would help. By answering a few questions, users of the Navigator will receive personalized information about their eligibility, the type of claim they can apply for, and resources for help with their claim application,” said Laura Dwyer, CVLN Regional Attorney Coordinator at Empire Justice Center.

“Working with Neota Logic, a software platform Pro Bono Net uses to build tools to increase access to justice, we developed a user-friendly tool that helps victims quickly determine if they are eligible for compensation and what type of claim they can make,” said Tim Baran, Technology Innovation Manager at Pro Bono Net.

The website, along with the Victim Compensation Guide was developed with insight from crime victims and service providers. “This guide was developed with direct input from providers who serve victims of crime,” said Dr. Susan Dietzel, Senior Research Scientist at SUNY Albany Center for Human Services Research. “The content and design reflect their feedback about how to facilitate the application process. I am excited to see a product that incorporates research into practice in such a tangible and meaningful way.”

According to the 2019-2020 OVS Annual Report, the total number of claims accepted by OVS was 9,682. “Many people who experience crime victimization and are eligible never apply for compensation,” said Remla Parthasarathy, Senior Attorney and CVLN Project Leader at Empire Justice Center. “We are excited that these tools are available and hope they will encourage more people to apply for and successfully complete the compensation process.”

The Guide and Navigator were developed with the assistance and support from the New York State Office of Victim Services. “The Office of Victim Services is dedicated to ensuring that all eligible crime victims receive the assistance that they need, including financial compensation for out-of-pocket expenses. This new guide and navigator will help more New Yorkers complete applications for assistance while avoiding common errors in the application process. We thank the Crime Victims Legal Network, Empire Justice Center, and partners, for developing these tools to ensure that more help gets to those who need it,” said Elizabeth Cronin, Director of the Office of Victim Services.

Go to crimevictimshelpny.org/compensation/ for more information on the Victim Compensation Online Claim Application Guide and Navigator.