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Advocacy FAQ

Below are some common questions about our center. Please contact us if you have any questions.

What is the difference between Reporting vs. Disclosure?

It is important to understand the difference between a disclosure and a report. A disclosure is when a survivor tells a campus official about his or her victimization in order to access services. A disclosure can only be kept confidential when given to a confidential resource such as Counseling, Medical or Confidential Advocates. If a survivor discloses his or her victimization to a campus official other than these confidential resources, then further action will be required to make an official report. A report is a survivor’s official complaint. A report requires a campus official to take action against the person reported to have committed violence.

What is the difference between Advocacy and Therapy?

Advocacy and therapy are quite different, even though there is some overlap. Therapy is incredibly important for many survivors during their healing process. Therapy is about processing a trauma related experience and treatment of mental health related diagnosis. Advocacy offers emotional support and can engage in crisis intervention, but there are a few key differences. Advocates are certified by their state or program to provide direct service one on one with victims of violence in a supportive role. In many ways, Advocacy and Therapy services overlap. However, you may find that survivors benefit from utilizing both advocacy and therapy services consecutively. Campus Advocates have knowledge and experience for navigating a variety of systems such as: Healthcare systems, criminal justice systems, and education/ administrative systems to help clients understand their rights and options to make the best-informed decisions to meet their needs.

How can our P.E.A.C.E. Center advocate help you?

  • Emotional and mental health assessment and support
  • Risk assessment and safety planning
  • Crisis intervention
  • Education on the Title IX process
  • Assistance making an official report to law enforcement
  • Guidance on decision-making and plan of action
  • Support through administrative or criminal processes
  • Accompaniment to meetings or appointments, as needed
  • Referrals to counselors and other services outside our center, as needed

 

What does it mean that the Advocate is confidential?

Confidentiality means that no identifiable information will be shared without written release of your permission. The only exceptions are instances of child abuse or neglect or abuse and/or neglect of a vulnerable person and/or situation involving imminent threat of harm to yourself or others. The advocate may be required to provide aggregate information to Clery and EOS in certain situations.

How do I report an incident to the police?

The decision to make a report to the police is entirely yours but understanding how and learning more about the experience can help you to be prepared with what to expect. You would have to make first contact with the police either by calling 911, visiting the police station in person or police can come to receive a statement from you at the hospital while you are participating on a SAFE (sexual assault forensic exam).

Is there a time limit to reporting to the police?

Yes, and the time limit differs for each criminal offense. Sexual assault has the time limit of 10 years after commission of the offense, however, if the crime is committed against a child then no time limit exists. There are circumstances in which there is no time limit, if there are multiple victims and if forensic DNA evidence is present and permissible.

Do I have to report to the police to get a rape kit?

By law you are not required to report to the police in order to receive a SAFE (sexual assault forensic exam). The VAWA (Violence against Women Reauthorization Act) has made it easier for someone to maintain anonymity where they receive a code to identify themselves if they choose to report later.

What if I don’t have physical injuries, is there enough proof?

Police gather evidence in a number of ways and in many instances statements, and witnesses are just as important as physical evidence. Most sexual assault do not result in external physical injuries, there may be internal injuries you cannot see, but you can also choose to have a SAFE (sexual assault Forensic exam) to check for an collect DNA evidence.

What If I don’t know who assaulted me?

There is value in having a sexual assault forensic exam performed, regardless of whether or not you know the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators. Much needed medical attention, testing and treatment can also be given at the time of the exam. DNA evidence collected during the exam can play an important role in the case against the perpetrator and prevent future assaults from occurring if they are caught.

If I report to the police with the University find out?

Yes. Police reports involving students are shared with the Office for Student Conduct, which investigates sexual misconduct and determines what action, if any, is appropriate. Police reports are public documents although a survivor’s name, identifying information, contact information and other private details are kept confidential.

If I have reported the incident to Title IX services, should I also report to the police?

In some situations you may have the option do both but it is entirely your decision with how to proceed. A criminal investigation and an administrative investigation have two very separate purposes. Police seek to arrest and convict people for crimes when they have broken the law. The university has an obligation to look into matters when a student has violated the Student Code of Conduct and determines if disciplinary sanctioning is appropriate when holding students accountable for their actions.

What is stalking?

A pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

What types of behaviors are considered stalking?

Stalkers use a variety of tactics, including (but not limited to): unwanted contact including phone calls, texts, and contact via social media, unwanted gifts, showing up/approaching an individual or their family/friends, monitoring, surveillance, property damage, and threats.

Who is likely to be stalked?

Anyone can be a victim of stalking. A majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know: a current or former intimate partner, acquaintance, or family member.

How is stalking different than harassment?

Stalking and harassment are similar and can overlap. Harassment may be part of a stalking pattern of behavior/course of conduct. Generally, the element of fear is what separates stalking from harassment. Harassment is typically irritating and bothersome, sometimes to the point where a victim feels deeply uncomfortable. However, victims of harassment are not typically afraid of their perpetrators.

For example, a colleague who consistently mocks a new coworker for their appearance may be harassing them by saying cruel things and sending disparaging e-mails. While the victim is distressed and may feel sad, anxious, angry and/or uncomfortable, they are not afraid of the perpetrator – they do not believe that the behaviors will escalate or that further harm will come. However, if that same perpetrator began calling the victim’s cell phone, following the victim and/or posting disparaging things about the victim online, it could become stalking.

People react to stalkers in a variety of ways. Some may seem irritated or angry rather than scared, while others may minimize and dismiss their stalking as “no big deal.” Irritation, anger, and/or minimization may be masking fear. It is helpful to consider how victims may change their behaviors to cope with the stalking. Are they changing travel routes? Avoiding certain locations? Screening calls? These may be indicators that victims are afraid.

Intimate Partner Violence, Domestic Violence, and Dating Violence

can be defined as patterns of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner, it can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.

What is Intimate partner violence?

This term describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression, including coercive acts by a current or former intimate partner. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.

What is Domestic Violence?

The violence can be committed by a current or former spouse or partner. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating, it affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Nationally, 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime, in the state of Texas the ratio is increased to 1 in 3 women who will be affected. Types of abuse can include: Physical, Sexual, Emotional, and Financial.

What is Dating Violence?

Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. This type of violence can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional/ verbal abuse, financial abuse and/or digital abuse.

What are some examples of physical abuse?

Physical abuse is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy. Some examples of physical abuse include but are not limited to: scratching, punching, biting, strangling, kicking, pulling your hair, pushing or pulling you, grabbing your clothing, use of any kind of weapon to force or intimidate you to do something.

How do I know if what I am experiencing is emotional abuse?

A relationship can be unhealthy or abusive even without physical violence. There are many non-physical behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse, typically these behaviors are used to exert power and control over you and very often look like manipulation to keep you from leaving the relationship. Emotional abuse is never your fault, and if experienced ongoing can cause long-term emotional pain and trauma. Some examples of emotional abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Calling you names and putting you down.
  • Yelling and screaming at you.
  • Intentionally embarrassing you in public.
  • Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
  • Telling you what to do and wear.
  • Damaging your property (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
  • Accusing you of cheating and often being jealous of your outside relationships.
  • Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
  • Using gaslighting techniques to confuse or manipulate you.

What conduct involves sexual abuse?

It is a type of physical abuse or act that is sexual in nature and is committed against someone's will or when they have not given consent or are incapable of giving consent. This definition refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do.

I'm not sure if what I am experiencing is considered financial abuse?

Financial abuse can be very subtle in relationships when compared to other types of financial abuse like theft or extortion. It can include unwanted or controlling behaviors involving your financial assets that happen slowly over time but progressively get worse or more controlling. If your partner tells you what you can and cannot buy with your own money or requires you to share control of your bank accounts, you may be experiencing financial abuse. At no point does someone you are dating or in a relationship with have the right to spend or control your money without permission nor tell you how you should spend or control your own money.

If my partner is trying to control who I talk to online is that considered digital abuse?

Controlling or trying to control a partner’s use of technology such as calls, texting and/or social media is a type of online verbal or emotional abuse. This includes someone telling their partner what they can or cannot do online, by phone or even in person. It is considered abuse when a person isolates a person and controls, manipulates and mistreats them by limiting their access to friends and family.

What types of behaviors are considered sexual harassment?

sexual harassment can be verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature that can include unwelcome sexual advances and/ or requests for sexual favors that are made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of a person’s student status, employment or participation in activities.