Victim Advocacy Services
An advocate can confidentially explore the circumstances of the crime or abusive situation with the student and assist them in stabilizing and understanding the emotions resulting from the event or situation. Advocates provide trauma-informed care and can help you understand your reactions and feelings in relation to what has happened to you. An advocate can meet individually with victims of crime, violence or abuse to offer judgment free support and help them process their experience and regain control of their lives. During this meeting the advocate will listen, empathize, and empower their client. An advocate will not force or pressure the client to discuss or disclose any information they are not comfortable sharing and will create a safe and accepting environment.
An advocate can also assist a client by exploring options, assessing for risk factors for increased violence, safety planning, and providing referrals to additional resources.
Individual and emotional support by an advocate is not the same as counseling or therapy. The work with an advocate is focused on the healing process resulting from the crime, violence or abuse while counseling is focused on addressing mental health issues or diagnoses. Advocates help process and understand how the body and brain react to trauma in an effort to help individuals move through the healing process.
Advocates aims to reduce the barriers that students may encounter following a victimization. If a student is in need of reasonable academic accommodations an advocate may be able to provide arrangements with professors regarding missed classes, late assignments, or other course requirements. In making arrangements with professors, an advocate never discloses any information regarding the crime and specifically requests that the professor respect the student's privacy.
If a student needs to withdraw from courses due to a victimization, an advocate may be able to assist with that process. ARC petitions can be submitted with support from a victim advocate, if appropriate, and can protect the student’s privacy throughout the process.
For more information about the process of filing an ARC petition, please read the petition process guide.
The University of South Florida prohibits all gender based violence including sexual violence. A complaint can be filed through one of two designated offices, the Office of Diversity, Including and Equal Opportunity (DIEO) or the office of Student Conduct & Ethical Development (SCED). An advocate can provide assistance in explaining the reporting process, making the initial report, as well as any advocacy needs throughout the process including accompaniment to meetings, hearings, and reasonable accommodations. An advocate can ensure that all rights are upheld throughout the process as well as act as a liaison between the client and investigating office.
University Conduct Process or Human Resources
If an incident is reported to the office of Student Conduct & Ethical Development or Human Resources, an advocate can provide assistance in explaining the reporting process, making the initial report, as well as any advocacy needs throughout the process including accompaniment to meetings, hearings, and reasonable accommodations. An advocate can ensure that all rights are upheld throughout the process as well as act as a liaison between the client and investigating office.
Other University Advocacy
If you are experiencing challenges within the university system due to your victimization, an advocate may be able to provide advocacy and assistance in remedying the situation and acting as a liaison between you and various university offices.
A safety plan is a personalized and practical plan that helps identify things a victim can do to better protect themselves and their children and to help reduce the risk of being hurt.
An advocate is available to accompany you to any criminal or civil case court hearings due to victimization, including Injunctions for Protection. An advocate is not able to provide legal advice, but can offer emotional support before, during, and after the hearing.
Injunctions for Protection
Injunctions for Protection are referred to as "restraining orders" or "orders for protection" in some states. You do not have to report the crime in order to request an Injunction for Protection. The intention of an Injunction for Protection is to restrict the access of the offender to the victim, allowing the victim to avoid contact with the offender. Some offenders will abide by the terms of the injunction; however, others will not. For this reason, Injunctions for Protection, when granted, are not guarantees of safety. To increase the chances of a successful petition, we recommend meeting with an advocate to assist you with the documentation and filing. Attending the petition hearing and having to testify can be confusing and frightening, but you do not have to handle this alone. Your advocate can guide you through the process and accompany you to court hearings for the injunction.
You can find more information about injunctions for protection on the Pinellas County, visit the Clerk of Court website.
Referrals to Legal Services
If you are in need of a referral to legal services due to a criminal or civil legal matters related to victimization, an advocate can provide you with a referral to local agencies and assist in attaining representation. Victim advocates are not able to provide any legal advice or counsel.
An advocate can arrange a Forensic Medical Exam following a sexual battery (rape). Forensic Medical Exams can be done up to 120 hours (5 days) following the sexual battery. A client does not have to file a police report to get an exam. Forensic Medical Exams are done 24/7 at the Suncoast Center (not the hospital) and are used to collect evidence and assess for internal injuries.
An advocate can also assist a client in obtaining STI and pregnancy preventative measures following a sexual battery and can arrange for medical care with ongoing STI testing or treatment.
Advocates can accompany clients to any and all doctor's appointment, depending on the client's individual wishes and needs.
If you have been victimized by a sexual battery and it has been less than 120 hours, please contact our office for assistance at (727)873-4432.