Project Spotlight: Creating Supports for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

Project Spotlight: Creating Supports for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

Posted on June 6, 2018

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by Madison Scott

VOCA Campus Outreach and Advocacy Program is a two-year grant working to increase Western’s ability to provide support for survivors of gender-based violence. The grant will continue through September of 2020 and will be housed in TRI’s Center on Student and Community Services. I sat down with Aislinn Addington, Ph.D., to learn what we can expect as this program gets going.

VOCA will allow for several great supports for survivors of gender-based violence. The first of these supports is that around July 1, Abby’s House is planning on bringing in a second professional staff member. This will allow Abby’s House to expand its capacity for confidential advocacy, bring in another perspective, and allow for student volunteers to gain experience with a second professional in the field. Additionally, this staff member will be bilingual, which will allow Abby’s House to extend its services to a wider audience. The new professional staff member will focus on direct service and outreach, but will also help co-manage the Abby’s House team of student volunteers. By bringing this new staff member in over the summer, Addington will have time to work with them to craft how the program will look come fall term.

Once fall term rolls around, we can expect to see some new services offered at the Student Health and Counseling Center, thanks to this program. Part of the grant includes purchasing specialized equipment for the staff at the Health and Counseling Center to be able to conduct forensic exams. Previously, Addington had stated that the training to conduct these exams was already underway, so bringing the required equipment on campus is a great step toward getting these services ready for the 2018–2019 school year.

In addition to the equipment, Addington said this grant has “also provided money for, basically, a license to be able to take the 40-hour advocate training for the counseling staff.” She also noted, “The counseling staff is interested in [the training] but none of them are trained in that way.” This training will give the counseling staff the specific knowledge and skills they need to act as an advocate, if needed. This will also be fully implemented come fall term, as final details are currently still being worked out.

Although this grant is only just getting rolling, Addington is already looking toward the future. There’s the possibility of a renewal to the grant, but nothing is for certain. Whether or not they receive the renewal, she said, “I am determined …  that two years will demonstrate the necessity of this position so that, in the case of not having a grant, the university sees the value of it and will take that on.”


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