“It is important to have a plan in place to meet the needs of sexual abuse and exploitation victims when they arise. Wishful thinking and hope for the best, fake it ’til you make it attitude can be very damaging before, during, and after a sexual assault occurs.”
– Trish Propson
What is a third-party sexual abuse and exploitation victim advocate?
The word advocate is a noun that means a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. The verb form of the word means to publicly recommend or support. So, with these definitions, we know an advocate is a person who acts to publicly support a cause, policy, or in this case a sexual assault and exploitation victim.
Consider this scenario. A mother recently learned that her daughter was sexually assaulted by her brother. The rape happened months ago and so no rape kit can be done at the hospital. Law enforcement cannot help her because there is no evidence a crime has been committed and no one has reported it. The local sexual assault center cannot help because she is a minor and they don’t have services in place for her. Her counselor is tangled up with mandated reporting and client confidentiality. The family is divided with some members backing the victim and others supporting the perpetrator. Her daughter is slipping farther away from the family and is suicidal. She calls her Pastor. He is not trained in sexual assault and so he refers her to law enforcement and the sexual assault center. And so, the cycle of helplessness for this victim continues. What is the mother to do? Who can she turn to for help?
A third-party sexual abuse advocate is a highly trained, neutral, professional who serves a family, or an adult victim impacted by sexual abuse or exploitation. A third-party advocate is hired following a crisis to ‘advocate’ for the victim. An advocate will establish trust with the victim to help guide them in decision-making during the acute phase of a crisis. Advocates are available on-site to offer emotional support, and information about prevention, legal rights, criminal justice processes, and safety planning. They can help find resources and can even assist with interviews, paperwork, and court issues.
Many victims and family members are relieved to have an advocate present to help assure their safety and to receive the help they need to recover from the impact of the sexual abuse or exploitation they have experienced.
Are you a victim who needs third-party support in your crisis? Do you need trusted sexual abuse and exploitation victim crisis support within your church or Christian community? Are you short staffed or lacking lay people who are trained in sexual abuse response? Are sexual abuse resources for victims limited in your area? Professional third-party sexual abuse advocates are trained to come alongside victims during a crisis, offer support and training to family members, act as an intermediary with law enforcement, county resource agencies, and organizational leaders. They can also offer counseling or support group services where appropriate.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Eph 1:8
Trish is a licensed crisis response chaplain with Critical incident stress management training. She is a Certified Biblical Counselor who uses trauma-informed care and specializes in sexual assault and exploitation. She has worked for decades as an advocate with victims, families, law enforcement, hospitals, counselors, and advocacy centers. A survivor herself, she understands the complexities of navigating the journey to hope and healing after a sexual assault. Trish offers professional third-party advocacy services and training for:
- Court Expert Witness Services
- Law Enforcement Agencies
- County Agencies
- Sexual Assault Centers
- Forensic Nurses
- Non-profit agencies who specialize in sexual abuse and exploitation
“Trish helped me more in one session than all the other ’licensed’ counselors I have ever seen. She understands sexual trauma. Her compassionate faith-based approach got right to the heart of my issues. For the first time, I feel like there may be hope for me.”
– Sexual Assault victim
“I have been to dozens of counselors over the years and been prescribed lots of meds. I knew what I needed and that was to find out who I was before the assault took place. I just needed a reminder that God loves me and cares for me even if this happened.”
– Teen rape victim
“I was sick of all of the psychology. I needed a compassionate professional who understood that God is part of my life equation. I am so glad I found Trish to walk me through some practical steps that aligned with my faith.”
– Adult survivor of childhood, sexual assault.
“I have seen so many counselors. I had given up hope. Trish worked with me for only six sessions before I knew exactly what God wanted me to do for healing. Now I can be a better mom for my daughter, and a better wife for my husband. I have been set free.”
– Single mom
“She was gone for six hours before we figured out what happened. Thank you for helping us know how to respond to her abduction. We have a lot of work to do but she is home safe.”
– Mother of a trafficking victim