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What is an advocate?

What You Can Expect

What can you expect from your first call or meeting with an advocate? 

  • An advocate will listen to you and provide support to help you cope with what you are experiencing. 
  • An advocate can help you make a plan to stay as safe as possible in your environment.
  • An advocate can provide information and options for you to make decisions.
  • An advocate might work with you to prioritize your needs and help you determine your next steps.
  • An advocate might serve as a sounding board for you to discuss your options. 
  • An advocate will keep the information you share confidential. 
  • An advocate’s conversations with a survivor are privileged. 
  • A community sexual assault program’s records are confidential. 
  • An advocate will not share your information unless they are required to by a law or a court order, or you want them to and you sign a release of information. An advocate will talk with you about this the first time you meet.

Advocates May Help With

Some other things advocates may help with are: 

  • Serving as a liaison between the survivor and systems that are involved 
  • Informing survivors of their rights as a victim of crime. Some rights include:
    • To be treated with dignity and respect
    • The right to have a support person present at the forensic medical examination
    • The right to have an advocate present at any law enforcement interviews and hearings
    • The right to submit a victim impact statement or report to the court
  • Informing survivors of other resources and services that are available to them

Advocates Cannot Help With

There are some things that advocates cannot help with. Some of those things are: 

  • Providing legal advice
  • Making decisions for you 
  • Telling you whether to report the sexual assault or not
  • Investigating a crime
  • Providing therapy or other mental health treatment services

If you need help with something an advocate cannot provide, an advocate can often refer you to another organization they know helps with that issue. 

Reviewed: December 6th, 2016