What is a Victim Advocate?
An advocate is someone who has specialized training to provide survivor-centered support, information and referrals to those who have been subjected to sexual or domestic violence. Advocates provide support that is grounded in the survivor’s self-identified needs. Advocates ensure that survivors have the resources to make well-informed decisions about their care and options. They also ensure compliance with victims’ rights laws. Advocates honor the survivor’s resiliency and right to exercise control over their lives. They also work closely with community providers such as mental health therapists, medical and criminal justice professionals to ensure that survivors have trauma-informed and competent care.
What is Mobile Advocacy?
Mobile Advocacy means we come to you for services. Understanding that trauma affects each of us differently, accessing services isn't always easy. In an effort to reduce any barriers to services, our mobile advocates will work with you by getting out of the office and into the community to meet with you directly. You can still meet at one of our offices if that is the place you'd prefer to meet. You decide how much or how little support you'd like from your advocate. We are here to support you in your healing in any capacity we can.
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2010).
What is rape culture?
Rape culture is a term that was originally coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970's. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized sexual violence. Rape culture is understood as a complex set of beliefs that encourage sexual aggression and support sexual violence. It is a society that values silence, secrecy and privacy so that incidents of sexual violence remain hidden. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy. In a rape culture, targets of rape perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching, and to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women and other vulnerable groups, including LGBTQIA individuals, as the norm.
How do I know if I'm eligible to receive services?
We serve all LGBTQIA and other gender and sexually marginalized populations, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, ability status, class or national origin. There are no other eligibility requirements to receive services. If you're not quite ready to share with us those details of your life, you aren't required to.
My assault did not happen recently. Am I still able to receive services?
Absolutely. We recognize that trauma affects each of differently. Sometimes it is days, weeks, months or years before we feel able to seek support. Regardless of when your assault happened, we are here for you.
Do you accept insurance? How much do services cost?
All services are free.
Do I have to file a report to law enforcement to receive services?
Absolutely not. There is no expectation that you file a report or press charges to work with us. However, should you choose to pursue those options, our advocates will help you navigate that process and provide support to you throughout your journey.
Will my advocate report my experience to law enforcement?
No. Our advocates are certified under the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA). This means that advocates are confidential and are not mandatory reporters. An advocate will not make any decisions or actions that you do not support.
I want to receive services, but I am not out to my family, friends and/or community.
We understand that not everyone is able to share who they are with the people in their life. All information you share with your advocate is confidential.
I am the friend, family or loved one of a survivor. What support can I receive?
Our advocates work not only with survivors, but their support networks as well. We recognize that sexual violence affects everyone, including those close to the survivor. We can work with you by sharing ways in which you can support survivors, including how to respond to disclosures, how to support survivors, engaging self-care, and more.
I want to make my agency more inclusive of LGBTQIA individuals and/or survivors. What can I do?
There are many ways to support LGBTQIA individuals. Whether you are part of a student group or work at a larger agency, we can work with your team to provide focused training to meet your needs. Not sure where to start? Contact us to schedule a Safe Zone Training or LGBTQIA 101 session.