UCO program advocates for sexual abuse survivors

With Survivor Central, the YWCA, UCO’s Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies program and the UCO Women’s Research and BLGTQ+ Student Center (The Center) have partnered to give support and advocacy to students who have experienced sexual violence, domestic violence and/or stalking.

YWCA is an emergency crisis intervention service advocating for survivors and laying the foundation for them to rebuild their lives free from shame, blame and future violence.

With the program, there are attorney general-certified advocates that are trained with the YWCA to help survivors when they need help. Advocates get personally connected with survivors and provide them resources that they need. Resources include counseling and therapy services, making a report to the police, providing housing and assistance in obtaining Victim Protective Orders (VPO). 

“You are not alone,” said Ytzel Gonzalez, a Survivor Central and crisis intervention advocate.  “You have an entire team here for you, no matter what resources you need, you do not have to be alone throughout your process.”

The program is offered to all UCO students regardless of gender, race, religion or identity, and the services provided are entirely free, voluntary and confidential. Although the program is mainly for students, the Center and the YWCA will never turn anyone away in a time of need.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, sexual violence is more prevalent at college when compared to other crimes. 

“There is a definite need, especially when you’re talking about supporting students and advocating to offer that healing piece,” said Dr. Lindsey Churchill, director of The Center. “So, the program is connecting people to resources and finding them support and I think it is very important and anecdotally a need for it.”

If you are interested in becoming an attorney general-certified advocate regarding sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking and receive internship credit through the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program or other internships, contact Churchill at lchurchill@uco.edu.

If you need to speak privately with an advocate you can go to the Center, Thatcher 106, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday or scan the QR code to schedule an appointment.

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