What Happens When I Call the Survivor Advocate
Every individual contacting the Survivor Advocate is unique. Some people may have experienced a recent sexual assault while other callers may be a concerned friend or loved one. Although each contact will be tailored to the specific needs to the caller, below are some common phrases and questions the victim advocate may use to best assist each caller.
"Thank you for calling"
Reaching out for help takes a lot of courage and the victim advocate is so happy you did. Although seeking help may initially cause some anxiety, please be assured that the victim advocate is a confidential resource and nothing you say (except in the case of self harm or harm to others) will be revealed without your permission. You can remain completely anonymous throughout the call and can share as much or as little information as you would like. Reaching out is the first, and very important, step to seeking assistance in hopes of improving your situation and/or recovery.
"Are you in a safe place"
Your safety and well being is our number one priority. Because it's difficult to assess danger through the phone, the victim advocate will ask if you are in a safe place and if you're able to safely discuss your issues and concerns. In the case of dating/domestic violence, it’s critical for your safety that you reach out when your partner is not around, whenever that is possible. If your partner does come home or walk in while you’re talking with an advocate, immediately disconnect the call. You can call as often as you would like whenever you have a safe opportunity to do so. One way to increase your safety is to delete the victim advocate's and any other support service number from your call log and clear your internet browser after viewing the VPVA and victim advocate website.
"Can you tell me a little bit about your situation"
Although you have the right to share as little or as much as you can about the situation, in order to best serve your needs and assist you, the victim advocate needs to know some specifics about the situation. Before an advocate can begin helping you, they need to know your specific situation. This gives you an opportunity to bring up any concerns you’ve had about any recent or past incidents/assaults or relationship concerns.
"What have you thought about doing at this point"
The victim advocate believes that you are the expert of your own situation and know what course of action will be best for you at any given time. Because of the fact that the victim advocate may not know everything about the situation, and callers reach out at different times in their relationships or following the assault, the victim advocate will need to know what steps you’re ready to take before they can help you find resources. While the victim advocate won’t tell you what to do next, the victim advocate will provide some options so you can make the best decision for yourself at that time.
"How are you taking care of yourself"
Whether you're in an unhealthy or abusive relationship or have experienced some form of sexual violence, it is of utmost importance to remember to take care of yourself. While experiencing stress or anxiety stemming from a traumatic event, please ensure that you carve out some time for yourself to engage in an activity or hobby that you enjoy. You can never practice enough self-care. Although not always, it may be helpful to write down your feelings in a journal.
"Let's work on a plan together"
There is usually more than one option for each situation and the victim advocate can help you brainstorm the pros and cons of each decision so you have all of the information to pursue a course of action that will be most beneficial to you at that time.
"Is there anything else I can do to help you"
Although you may have called for a specific reason, during the course of the conversation you have have thought about something else entirely or decided you wanted more detailed information about something that was only briefly touched on..........please feel free to ask as many questions or take as much time as you would like. The victim advocate would like for you to feel as informed and empowered as possible.