A is for Advocacy

advocatebackpack

This student wears advocacy with pride.

You may be shocked to learn

  • 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime
  • 1 out of every 33 American men has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in his lifetime
  • Approximately 50% of transgender people experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime
  • 83% of all sexual assaults are by people who know the victim
  • Less than 5% of college students who are assaulted report the crime to the police
  • Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted

These unfortunate facts, among others, ​do not discriminate geographically. They are nation-wide as well as in our own community. Reading these statistics, its hard not to feel anger and sadness when looking around campus. 1 in 4 of your female classmates, teachers, faculty and workers will experience this atrocity in their lifetimes. But as the statics show, women are not the only victims. Statistics continue to show Trans* individuals experience and are in danger of assault and harassment. Men are also not immune to sexual and domestic violence. The statistics continue to show that many humans will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. This is unacceptable.

Luckily, there are services in Winona that help assist anyone in need. If you feel moved to help people devastated by rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and domestic violence, there is an opportunity to reach out and help people heal. Winona State University, in partnership with the Women’s Resource Center of Winona, offers advocacy training and certification as University credit, but more importantly, a volunteer opportunity to assist the community.

The course through WSU is a 45- hour advocacy training course, where employees from the Women’s Resource Center, Winona Police Department, Winona Courthouse and Winona Health collaborate to train students how to function in the community as an advocate. Advocates have lots of responsibilities, including manning a 24-hour hotline, physically going to the hospital, police station or court with victims, and providing timely support and resources to victims. The Women’s Resource Center of Winona takes very seriously the tasks of an advocate. They provide

  • Short-term, emergency, and confidential housing for individuals escaping violence
  • Legal, financial, shelter, and other resource referrals
  • Assistance with preparing and filing Orders for Protection and Harassment Restraining Orders

In my own life, I have had close friends as well as strangers approach me online, on campus, at bars, in bathrooms and in the library with their stories of assault. Each person is unique–some are looking for resources, some are looking for comfort, some are looking for what to do next. As an advocate, I am trained with the proper responses that address each individual’s needs. I have seen the devastation and dark places left by assaults, but I have also experienced their inspirational journey of healing.

It is possible to help someone move from victimhood and despair to a place of hope and healing. It takes a lot of courage, compassion and strength to be an advocate, but the rewards of helping a community is priceless.

On Tuesday, April 22nd, Winona State University and the Women’s Resource Center will be hosting its annual Take Back the Night, a public speaking-out against sexual violence where victims, survivors and those who love them have the opportunity to tell their story, express their feelings, and be amongst a community of people who desire justice and healing. I will be posting a blog post in early April with more details.

Here you can read more about the application and responsibilities of an advocate.

To enroll in the class, please contact Tamara Berg, head of Women’s and Gender studies at tberg@winona.edu

To talk with an advocate, please call:

  •  507-452-4440 (8am to 4:30pm)
  • 507-452-4453 (after 4:30pm)

The WRC is located at 77 E 5th St, Winona, MN 55987-3517.

–Courtney McCaw

Leave a comment