Karen Hatfield sat behind her desk as the afternoon sun peered through the window, her unwavering blue eyes filled with conviction and sincerity.
“I totally and completely believe in what I do,” she said simply.
Perhaps it is not noteworthy that a person would believe in what they do; on some level this is what all human beings seek — purpose.
However, in a field where burn-out averages six years, this belief can be easily exhausted, particularly among those who have dedicated their lives on the front lines of social change.
While many Pagosa area residents may have noticed the purple ribbon-clad lamp posts around town commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout October, many might not know the people who operate behind the scenes of the Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program (ACVAP).
ACVAP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing safety and justice for victims of violence, and creating social change through outreach and training.
The ACVAP staff has not only supported victims of violence in Archuleta County for many years, but they have become influencers of policy and programming on a state and national level.
Hatfield, assistant director of ACVAP, has worked in victim advocacy for almost 30 years.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed a task force to investigate the effects of crime on victims. The task force spurred a movement toward victim advocacy that would gain momentum in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Hatfield became a victim advocate in 1986 in Arapahoe County, Colo., on the heels of the establishment of the Victims of Crime Act. The legislation founded the first Crime Victim’s Fund, and recognized the need to address victimization in a variety of ways.
Hatfield pushed this progress forward by creating a community-based victim’s compensation program. The program eventually became state-mandated, and a nationally recognized model.
Victim compensation pays for everything from medical treatment and therapy to lost wages and new windows, locks and doors.