WHAT IS ADVOCACY?
Advocates at SACIS and CAISA are trained to provide support as survivors and their significant others (family member, spouse, partner, friend, etc.) navigate various systems throughout their healing process. An advocate may work with survivors throughout their entire process be it in the emergency room in the hospital, in a courtroom, or for case management services. Advocates work closely with other agencies at the request of the survivor, in order to provide the best care possible. They are a source of comfort, support and information for the survivor and their loved ones.
WHAT DOES AN ADVOCATE DO?
The advocate helps survivors, with the utmost confidentiality, to navigate the challenges often associated with sexual violence. An advocate will serve as your point person when faced with important questions and situations.
WHAT THE ADVOCATE WILL NOT DO…
- An advocate will not make decisions for you – Advocates will not persuade survivors to make a particular decision about reporting, filing charges, completing an evidence collection kit, or taking the case to court. The advocate will give survivors all the information they need to make an informed decision and will do their best to ensure that the survivor’s decisions are respected at all times.
- An advocate will not investigate the case – If a victim decide to report the crime in hopes that the offender will be prosecuted, the advocate will not investigate or gather facts to be used at trial.
- An advocate will not serve in the same capacity as an attorney – The advocate will help survivors work with the State’s Attorney if there is a case going through the court system. The State’s Attorney will be the one to handle all of the legal aspects of that case at trial.
- An advocate will not testify in court – The advocate will sit in the courtroom with the victim throughout the court proceedings, but will not testify, as all of the services received at SACIS and CAISA are protected by Absolute Privilege (strict confidentiality that is similar to clergy/attorney-client/spousal privilege). This is to ensure that every survivor’s rights to confidentiality are respected so that nothing that is shared with the advocate or counselor from the rape crisis center will be repeated without the client’s direct request to waive their right to confidentiality.
- An advocate will not counsel the victim – In an effort to support survivors throughout the medical, police and court processes, the advocate will talk with survivors (and their significant others) about their feelings during these stages. If survivors would like counseling, the advocate will connect them with one of the counselors to aid them in their emotional recovery.
WHO PAYS FOR AN ADVOCATE?
Victims will never have to pay for advocacy services received at SACIS OR CAISA. The rape crisis centers receive special funds to pay the advocates’ salaries.
HOW CAN I REACH OUT TO AN ADVOCATE?
Most advocates working with survivors of sexual violence work at a rape crisis centers. All advocates are specially trained to respond to survivors and significant others who have experienced sexual violence and their advocacy services are strictly confidential and victim-centered so that they are able to support the needs of the survivor to every extent possible. The SACIS and CAISA advocacy staff work with clients in a number of different settings (hospitals, courthouses, college campuses, police stations, etc.).
There are several ways to access advocacy services at SACIS or CAISA:
- Call SACIS (1-888-345-2846) or CAISA (1-866-288-4888) and ask to speak with an Advocate
- Go to an area hospital emergency room. Ask the emergency department nurse, doctor or hospital employee to call an advocate from the rape crisis center. The advocate will come to the hospital to meet with the survivor and their significant others.
- Call the police and ask for the police to call an advocate from the rape crisis center.
Remember, the advocate can be contacted at any time after the assault and services are available to survivors of sexual violence at any point along their journey. In some cases, individuals have reached out for services immediately following their abuse/assault, while others have reached out decades after the incident occurred. We all process differently and our services are available to all survivors regardless of when the violence occurred. While some reporting options are time sensitive as it relates to statutes of limitations, our general services are not time limited. We can, at the very least, provide information about what options are available to the survivors seeking services. If the survivor has already reported to the police or received medical care, an advocate may still help with cases management or advocacy needs.