Helping victims and upholding a promise: WSU sexual assault resources

Women*s Center and ATVP, does everything to empower, support victims

JOSIE GOODRICH, Reporter/Copy Editor

Sexual assault is a serious matter, no matter the circumstance. With that, there are many great resources available on the Palouse for survivors of any kind.

One of the main resources WSU offers is inside the Compliance and Civil Rights office, and they help provide survivors with resources, advice, investigation, support, education and training, according to the CCR website.

“It is a great website and [their] team is amazing,” said Women*s Center Director Amy Sharp.

“They’re all about trauma informed interviews and working with those that are victims, so it’s a great resource.”

The Women*s Center is also a safe space for anyone to rely on, Sharp said. The center helps survivors not only find resources to fit each situation and story, but they will help victims with the process of reporting and seeking help, if wanted.

“What’s been cool is that I tell students, go ahead and let me know, I will tell them your story so you don’t have to say it again, and then they will send you resources and that’s exactly how it’s laid out,” Sharp said.

From there, the Compliance and Civil Rights Team will take each survivor that wants help and go forward with taking action, Sharp said. Whether that be getting a rape kit, switching classes or moving dorms, WSU CCR will work with survivors to best help their situation.

Another sexual assault resource is Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse. ATVP has a 24/7 hotline for anyone to reach out to at any time of the day, any day of the year and speak directly with a trained advocate, as well as having multiple office locations, said Katrina Critchfield, ATVP sexual assault coordinator.

“Our services are for all survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other crimes. All the services we provide are completely free and confidential,” Critchfield said.

There are a variety of services offered, primarily based on empowering survivors so that they have the ability to choose which services they want to engage in and what steps to take next, Critchfield said.

Services include things such as navigating the legal system and providing legal advocacy, filing paperwork and documentation, contacting housing authorities, attending court hearings, going with survivors to medical appointments and helping file for crime victims compensation, Critchfield said.

“It’s really just determined on what the survivor needs in that moment, what they’re looking for,” Critchfield said. “We’re going to do our best to support them and empower them to make the choice that’s best for them.”

If seeking medical attention, victims can go through a forensic exam, or better known as a rape kit. This process includes a basic medical exam, checking for any immediate injuries or health concerns, Critchfield said.

Then, a medical professional will go through the actual evidence collection process of swabbing and gathering evidence, as well as offer STI prophylaxis medication, Plan B and any kind of medical treatment, Critchfield said. It is best to go within 72 hours of the incident for the most accurate results, but patients can go after that time frame if needed.

Critchfield said she has seen a number of reasons why a survivor may be scared to come forward with their experience or ask for help, the main reason being safety concerns.

The Women*s Center and Alternative to Violence on the Palouse are both confidential resources that want to help any survivor get the resources that they need for their situation, no matter what, Critchfield said. With that, they will never force a survivor to do anything they are not comfortable with, whether that be reporting the incident or receiving an exam.

“That’s kind of the power behind Lauren’s promise, she did go to everybody and said, ‘I’m having problems’ and there was just a breakdown in that system,” Sharp said. “So when we say Lauren’s promise, we do mean to say ‘here at WSU we believe you, let’s find out what happened.’”