Strategies to minimize harm and maximize self-care.
The trained staff in the UHS End Violence on Campus (EVOC) Victim Advocacy & Survivor Services unit provides confidential, emotional supportive counseling to student victim/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, regardless of when they experienced victimization. Services provided can include assistance with academic, housing, transportation, and work accommodations; information about reporting options; and providing trauma-sensitive support to victims as they make decisions. Victim advocates will attend appointments—such as medical, legal, or campus disciplinary hearings—with students if requested. All victim advocacy and survivor services are available to UW-Madison students at no cost. Since fall 2014, EVOC has served more than 70 student victims.
Jamie Temple, the survivor services coordinator at UHS, is the primary contact for student victims. “One of the biggest barriers for students is to associate themselves as victims, but students need to know that they’re not alone. There are resources available to them.” She adds that some students don’t necessarily want to associate with labels such as “sexual assault” or “rape.” “You are not alone,” emphasizes Temple.
Students can utilize Victim Advocacy at any stage in their healing process and may begin by having a one-time meeting with a victim advocate to determine their needs. Some students get their needs meet in a single-time consultation, and others see a victim advocate on a weekly basis for as long as it is helpful. Temple says that when victim advocates meet with a client, they discuss how to get the student to a place where they feel supported.
“The effect of these services on students is significant,” says Carmen Hotvedt, manager of the Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy/EVOC team at UHS. Hotvedt notes that in the 2014-2015 academic year, 16 students who sought UHS victim advocacy services were in jeopardy of failing a course or considering leaving UW-Madison. Due in part to the services provided by the survivor services coordinator, “all of the students were able to stay enrolled and continue their education.”
There are no session caps for students who meet with victim advocates. Students can also drop in during regularly scheduled Open Access hours (no appointment is needed) as many times as they need. Victim advocates can also refer students to other campus and community resources.
Drop-in support groups are open to student victims and survivors of all forms of gender-based violence. The empowerment groups are led by trained university staff who are dedicated to addressing sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking.
“Support groups give survivors a safe space to connect with others who experienced victimization. There is so much power in taking away the isolation and shame that many survivors of victimization feel. Getting that from a counselor or advocate is helpful, but getting that from a peer can be inspiring,” says Temple.
Temple emphasizes that information shared by victims and survivors during counseling sessions and empowerment groups is not shared with law enforcement, campus authorities, parents, or any other person without the explicit written permission of the student victim/survivor.
UHS victim advocates do not provide services 24 hours a day, but UHS has a 24-hour mental health line and nurse advice line, and 24-hour victim advocacy services are available in the greater Madison area through the Rape Crisis Center or Domestic Abuse Intervention Services.
If you or a student you know would like to speak with a UHS victim advocate, call 608-265-1483 or email email@example.com.
24-hour mental health crisis services: 608-265-5600 (option 9)
After-hours nurse advice: 608-265-5600 (option 1)
Dane County Rape Crisis Center: 608-251-7273
Domestic Abuse Intervention Services: 608-251-1237
Written by Kelsey Anderson, UHS Health Communications Specialist