Exploring Advocacy Practices for Interpersonal Violence Survivors on College Campuses: Approaches and Key Factors


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Objective: The current study explores campus-based advocacy services for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, to increase understanding of how these supportive services are used on college campuses. Method: Semi-structured interviews with campus-based advocates and student survivors who used advocacy programs on 3 college campuses were conducted. The participating programs were diverse in setting and student population. Thematic analysis was used to identify program approaches and distinguishing features for advocacy in higher education. Results: Data from 48 participants were used to identify approaches guiding campus-based advocacy models. Campus-based advocacy models are trauma focused and student/survivor-centered similar to community programs with higher education-based applications. Campus-based advocacy is distinguished by attention to (a) developmental phase, (b) the university community experience, and (c) the role of the institution and institutional policy in services. Campus-based advocacy programs vary in service model and setting based on institutional structure and needs. Confidential advocacy services are critical to meeting student survivor needs. Conclusion: This study illustrates that similar to community approaches, campus-based advocacy models for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence focus on empowerment, resource provision, and expanding social support during the college experience through a trauma informed lens. Campus-based advocacy programs provide potential benefit to student-survivors expressed needs, including prevention of further violence, enhanced well-being, increased academic outcomes, and support. Further research is needed to assess the outcome of campus-based advocacy and to guide program implementation as advocacy services in higher education grow.

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