All of the resident assistants (RA) had to come onto campus early for pre-fall semester training between Aug.10 and 13 in preparation for residents to begin move-in on the weekend of Aug. 15. Day three of training was focused on aid — everything from how the Clery Act makes RAs mandated reporters, to how to go about conflict resolution between roommates. The third day of training left a strong mark on me for a different reason though — that reason being knowledge about The Advocacy Center.
The Advocacy Center is a provider of domestic and sexual violence services within the Tompkins County area. Despite being an off-campus resource, it strongly is correlated with Title IX and is available to students in the Ithaca area. It has services for anyone who was a victim of incest or child sexual abuse, victims of sexual and domestic violence, and victims of sexual assault, as well as services and resources to the friends and family of those victims.
The reason that the Advocacy Center has stuck out to me so deeply and severely, is the fact that I had only learned about it, almost exactly six months from when I was in a dangerous situation. Due to the pandemic pushing the resource to be almost entirely virtual, I knew it was difficult to market the Advocacy Center and all of the services it has for victims — but I couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of grief over learning about something “too late.”
Here it was: a confidential resource, where I had access to someone completely neutral to me be there for a SANE exam — an evaluation given by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who has received training to provide comprehensive care to victims of sexual assault and able to conduct a forensic exam — and could walk me through my all of the options I had, whether or not I wanted to go forward with a court case and aid me with whatever next steps I chose on my own terms.
How this grief has manifested is that I now make a point to promote the Advocacy Center in as many bulletin boards and events as I can. As much as I want my students to come to me about an event that happens in their life, I understand that it may be uncomfortable when you know that the person you’re talking to has to report the incident on their end and even more difficult when that person sees you almost every day.
I’ve learned that getting help months after the fact is better than never getting help at all. I have been utilizing the Survivor’s Group offered by the Advocacy Center to share my story and coping mechanisms with people who have gone through similar experiences and work through our paths to healing together.
For more information on the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, go to www.actompkins.org or call their hotline at (607) 277-5000.