by Jamie Craig, Door County Program Coordinator, Sexual Assault Center, Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin
The accompanying graphic describes a sample day in the life of a victim advocate. The Sexual Assault Center works closely with many community organizations, and community collaboration is necessary for victims of sexual assault to heal and succeed in life.
During a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam), the victim advocate provides medical advocacy alongside the SANE nurses, hospital staff, law enforcement and child protective services (for underage victims). When all these agencies collaborate, victims do not have to tell their story multiple times to each service provider.
Legal advocacy includes court hearings, district attorney meetings and presentence investigations (PSI). Sexual-assault victim advocates maintain a strong relationship with district attorneys and victim/witness coordinators to provide effective legal advocacy and emotional support for victims. Prior to the sentencing of a perpetrator, the court often orders a PSI. For a PSI, probation and parole agents meet with the victims of the case for their input. Victim advocates attend PSI meetings to provide emotional support.
Victim advocates also provide prevention education to children in the community. Prevention education is crucial for ending sexual violence, and victim advocates work closely with schools and social workers to coordinate class time for prevention education. Community awareness creates a discussion about available services in the community, such as counseling, therapy and support groups.
The Door County Sexual Assault Center offers 24/7 support through the assistance of volunteer advocates after hours and on weekends, and through a staff-member advocate who is on call. All sexual-assault victim advocates are ready to respond when necessary. With 24/7 response and crisis intervention, victims are able to report and talk to an advocate whenever they are ready to speak out against their assailant. The 24-hour Sexual Assault Center hotline can be reached at 920.746.8996.
This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.