Have you or your loved one been sexually abused, assaulted, harassed? Not sure?
Do you need direction, help, or someone to talk to who has been through it?
It is imperative that you take specific steps to achieve the best possible outcome. I know, I've been there. I've made it through to the other side and so will you.
Know Your Rights
You are allowed to have a victim advocate with you when you are being interviewed by authorities, police, investigators, detectives. Minors may need to be questioned and parents might not be allowed in the room. As a victim advocate, I am allowed to be present, even when the parents are not.
Victim Advocacy Services for Victims and their Families
I help victims of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment, navigate the reporting, legal, and personal process to help them move forward. If you haven't already, please read my story on my ABOUT page so you will get to know me better and why I quote Rob Bell, "Nobody can guide you up a mountain they themselves haven't climbed."
I want to help you get through the traumatic experience that brought you here.
I'm here to provide guidance step-by-step. I am a resource for you to call when in need, help you decipher the legal jargon, and point you in the right direction for all of your needs.
I can help you by using my experience over the last ten years to provide the following resources:
Personal Plan - I can help you develop a personal plan on how you are going to get through the next weeks, months, and years. I share the techniques that helped me get through a criminal case, civil trials, and appeals, while maintaining a home and work life.
Reporting - I will do what I can to make sure your voice is heard by the right people. I can be by your side when you file a police report and/or child protective services. If you need help obtaining copies of a report you have already made, I can help with that. If you haven't filed a report yet, it is imperative that you do. Call me to discuss.
Police Interviews / Investigation - Police may want to interview a minor without the parents present. Victims have a right to have a victim advocate present. I can attend meetings and interviews with you or your child.
Attorneys - I work with the best lawyers who have a long history of helping victims and I can connect you to the one that is right for you. I will only refer you to those I know, trust, and respect. When I needed a lawyer I only wanted a personal referral, I didn't want to leave my fate up to website marketing.
Therapy - Everyone handles trauma in their own personal way. It is important you get matched to a therapist that has extensive experience in your particular type of situation. I can help connect you to the right fit.
Support - I can provide emotional support as someone who has been down the same road. I can also refer you to other support options that are the right fit for you through my network of victim service providers.
Courtroom - In addition to my personal criminal and civil trial experience, I was a CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster kids so I have spent a lot of time in courtrooms and writing reports to the judge. It can be scary or intimidating but you can do it. I can sit with you through court proceedings and be there to support you as someone who has been through it too.
Resources I have a library of support materials, coping techniques, and recommendations to help you and your loved ones get through this traumatic experience.
Speaking Up / Sharing Your Story - There is a time and place for this and when you are ready, I can help guide you. How, when, where, and why is important before posting or writing about your story. If want to have your story published in the media, I have contacts and will help you when the time is right.
Before you make your next move, let's talk. When I was in your shoes, I made a lot of mistakes that I have learned from over the last ten years. I want to help make this process smoother for you.
Research shows “Victims who work with an advocate experience less distress and are less likely to experience negative outcomes such as self-blame or feeling bad about themselves, guilty, or depressed. Significantly, they are also less reluctant to seek further help (Campbell, 2006; Patterson & Tringali, 2015; Wasco, Campbell, Barnes, & Ahrens, 1999).” Citation: Lonsway, K.A., Archambault, J., (2019). Improving Responses to Sexual Assault Disclosures: Both Informal and Formal Support Providers. End Violence Against Women International.
Impact and reactions to a sexual assault
The trauma caused by sexual assault often results in emotional stress that may be long lasting. Each person reacts differently to stress. There is no right or wrong way to act. It may be helpful for you to know some of the most common responses sexual assault victims/survivors have experienced.
During a sexual assault, a victim/survivor may feel powerless or terrified of being seriously injured or killed. Fears about personal safety are a very common response to a sexual assault. The first reactions that many sexual assault victims/survivors experience are shock, disbelief, or fear. You may:
Seem very upset or calm and in control.
Feel numb or dazed, withdrawn or distant from other people.
Not be sure of who to tell or what to do.
Not be sure of how you feel.
Want to forget about what happened.
Many victims/survivors experience intense emotions. Some victims/survivors have physical symptoms. There may be times when your thoughts and feelings are focused on the assault. You may:
Feel angry; other times you may feel anxious or depressed.
Be unable to sleep or you may have unwanted memories, flashbacks, or nightmares.
Experience changes in your eating habits.
Be afraid to be left alone or you may want to be left alone.
Avoid other people or situations that remind you of the assault.
Have trouble concentrating or making decisions.
Experience a change in your relationship with your partner.
Feel the need to change your job, where you live, or daily routine to attempt to gain a sense of control and safety.
Many victims/survivors know the person who assaulted them. A victim/survivor may feel vulnerable long after the assault, even if the offender is charged and prosecuted.
Because of myths about sexual assault, many victims/survivors feel shame, self-blame, and guilt. Many victims/survivors also feel devalued or humiliated. Sometimes these feelings are a reaction to being forced by the offender to take part in the crime. These feelings may also be reinforced by the reactions of others, who may criticize a victim’s/survivor’s behavior. The offender is always responsible for the sexual assault. It is never the victim’s/survivor’s fault.
Healing & Recovery
Healing from a sexual assault is a process that is different for each victim/survivor. It may help to talk to a sexual assault advocate who has experience in helping victims/survivors. A sexual assault advocate can offer a safe and private place to talk about your feelings, your concerns about the assault, and offer information and support. A sexual assault advocate will not judge you or make decisions for you.