Being a victim of sexual assault or the friend of someone who was murdered are just some of the issues TCU’s Victim Advocate Program addresses, said the program’s director.The program, located in the Campus Life office, will undergo new changes such as implementing six educational programs around campus throughout the school year, said program director Tracy Tucker.
Of the new programs, three will be educational training for advocates. The other two will be programs open to advocates, and faculty and staff members.
“Students may also be a victim of a personal or violent crime such as an armed robbery,” Tucker said.
Not all crimes listed are the most common, Tucker said, they are just the types of cases the program works with.
“There is no common crime,” Tucker said.
Victim Advocates can be a support system for an entire case, whether it is for three years or a week, Tucker said.
Glory Robinson, associate dean of Campus Life, previously worked with violence prevention at the Fort Worth Independent School District. She said she was aware of how a violence program worked and was able to start the Victim Advocate Program at TCU in 1996.
“The program is a part of the Campus Life budget, but there is not a specific amount of money delegated to the program,” Robinson said.
The number of students who use the program is confidential, but there are enough students who use the program to justify the amount of money spent, Robinson said.
The program has about 18 to 20 faculty and staff members who volunteer to be Victim Advocates in the program, Tucker said.
Campus Life staff members are advocates because they choose to be during their leisure time, Tucker said. The amount of time spent depends on if they currently have a victim to advocate.
“An advocate must be self-aware,” said Laura Crawley, assistant dean of Campus Life for health promotion. Crawley said an advocate must also know TCU’s on-campus resources and plug into the community.
Crawley said TCU advocates go through intense training sessions where they learn about common college crimes, the stages of recovery and sexual assault. They also listen to a legal victim’s advocate, who is able to legally intervene on a victim’s behalf in emergency situations. The duties of TCU and Tarrant County advocates are similar so the campus advocates will benefit from the training the county offers, she said.
“You have to have a pretty tough stomach to sit through the stuff,” Crawley said, “You are stunned because there is nothing fictional about it.”
Crawley said advocates assist with the legal process. For example, if the victim wants to press charges, and if the student’s parents are out of town, the advocate can accompany the student to court. Additionally, he or she helps the victim cope with stress as well as mediate in catching up with homework, especially if the victims were in the hospital for two or three weeks.
“Sometimes, the victims just want to talk and have coffee,” Crawley said. “It means the victim is moving forward, and that is very normal.”
If the program doesn’t work for the victim, they are referred to another counselor. Sexual assault victims are referred to The Women’s Center of Tarrant County Inc. Located in Fort Worth, the center offers the only Rape Crisis and Victim Services in Tarrant County.