March is designated as National Women’s History Month and we’re honoring the many talented women who work for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. Through the month, we’ll be highlighting various employees through a series of “The Women of CCPO” interviews to give a small glimpse into the important work they do.
Carmen Castillo – Victim Witness Advocate
Q: What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Carmen Castillo (CM): I am very excited that CCPO is taking this amazing opportunity to publicly acknowledge Women’s History Month. The movement/proclamation of Women’s History Month provides an acknowledgement that every girl, young or old, of any race, of any religious belief, regardless of her socio-economic status is able to publicly obtain the opportunity to be recognized for her achievements within her own nucleus, the community, or in academics that she may have contributed to improve her life or the lives of others, whether small or great.
Q: What woman did you look up to as a young girl?
CC: There were many women within my life whom I looked up to as a young Hispanic girl living within the City of Camden. Reflecting back, I was often inspired in many ways and during different phases of my life, which shaped my future and my current position as a Victim Advocate. I have some fond memories I experienced because of these extraordinary women, including my mother and my aunt Enid. The person that often brings memories of the role of breaking the mold was my 5th grade English teacher, Ms. Drummond, of Bonsall Elementary School here in Camden. As a student, we were required to read a book (any book), write a book report weekly, and present to the class what we learned or what adventures we experienced as a direct result. As a child, I was always fascinated to know that there are no limitations for someone who is determined to go beyond the expected roles that society often places on women of color who come from a neighborhood that is ”expected or destined to fail.” Reading allowed me to be free from the many challenges I faced daily as a young child.
Q: What led you to become a victim/witness advocate?
CC: What led me to become a Victim Advocate was witnessing so many women whom I loved and looked up to, conform to the role that society often places on them. These were women and girls who were often abused and mistreated by those who were supposed to love them; however, many were unable to identify themselves as victims at the hands of those they loved. As a Victim Advocate, my own personal level of understanding the many challenges these women and girls face encourages me to educate them about the choices they have with compassion and respect.
Q: Did you always have an interest in advocacy?
CC: Yes, I know that I always had an interest in some level of advocacy because I felt that those who have limited resources and information should have someone advocating on their behalf so that person can make the best decision based on their needs or circumstances.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
CC: The most rewarding part of being a Victim Advocate is to support those who are often limited with the information that I can offer them for advancement. Many of the families I previously assisted at different phases of my career often follow me for ongoing social work services.
Q: What is something about your job that would surprise people if they learned it?
CC: I am a closet comedian. Life is too short to always be serious even though we are often faced with many serious challenges or tragedies.
Q: What message would you share with the young women of the world?
CC: The message that I often share with young women with whom I come in contact is, “Be courageous to step outside of the box.”
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
CC: I just want to just mention that all Victim Advocates, currently or previously employed at CCPO, are truly amazing people who have demonstrated their dedication to making a small imprint of themselves and to just give freely of themselves to all those with whom they come in contact.