Victim's Bill of Rights
What is an Advocate?
Q. I know the Advocacy Program helps people who are the victims of incidents that occur on campus. But what if something happens to me while I am away from USF?
A. The Advocacy Program (AP) will assist you if you are the victim of crime or abuse even while you are away from campus. back to top
A. The distinction is a legal one. Domestic violence statutes allow law enforcement officers to arrest on probable cause if they believe that a crime has been committed. To be considered "domestic violence," the affected partner must have one or more of the following features: be married or divorced, have lived together as a family, or have produced a child together.
Many dating or relationship violence episodes do not include these elements. But the dynamics of the two relationships, especially if they are intimate relationships, are virtually the same. See domestic and relationship violence and domestic violence links. back to top
Q. If I have been a victim of crime, can I come to the Advocacy Program instead of the University Police?
A. Yes. Sometime a victim of a crime is not sure what she or he wants to do. In other cases, a person may not wish to report the crime to law enforcement or become involved with the criminal justice system. The Advocacy Program (AP) provides a safe place for victims to explore their options, one of which may be reporting to law enforcement, or to obtain services without reporting to law enforcement. The confidentiality of the victim will be honored by the AP except under certain, rare circumstances. Please refer to the AP's Confidentiality Statement for those exceptions. back to top
Q. Why do people talk so much about first year students being "at risk?"
A. Most of us are at risk of some sort when we venture outside our accustomed environment or take on new experiences. For many students, their arrival at the university represents the first time they have been away from home for an extended time. First year students are away from their customary support system of family and friends, just at the time that they are taking on a new level of adult responsibilities without parental supervision. While most students quickly become acclimated to their new learning community, there are some new students who are vulnerable to people on and off campus, who see first year students as "easy marks" for harassment, fraud, theft, and even sexual assault. There are ways to avoid becoming a crime victim: avoid drinking to excess in order to be alert to danger, develop a buddy system with one or more friends to look out for each other's safety when partying, keep laptop computers and other valuables locked up or with you at all times, and take advantage of the numerous safety workshops and handouts available throughout campus. In fact, there are more tips on this website! back to top
Q. Does the Advocacy Program really serve faculty and staff? I thought it was only for students.
A. Faculty and staff can become victims of crime, violence, or abuse and are eligiible for the same services from the Advocacy Program that students receive. The same confidentiality policy pertains to all clients regardless of their status as student, faculty or staff. back to top
Q. My supervisor referred me to the Advocacy Program instead of the Employee Assistance Program. Why?
A. The programs have different functions. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is staffed with licensed clinical psychologists who provide counseling and therapy for people who seek their services, including crime victims. The Advocacy Program (AP) does not provide therapy, although some of their interventions may have therapeutic effects. The AP provides advocacy, emotional support, information, crisis intervention, referrals, and many other services. The staff at AP receive their professional designations from the Attorney General of the State of Florida.
The programs are not mutually exclusive, but complementary. It is not unusual for an employee to use the services of both offices. back to top
Q. If I come to the Advocacy Program with a problem, will my parents find out?
A. The Advocacy Program (AP) has a strict confidentiality policy and will not give out information about you without your consent. If a concerned parent calls for information, the program informs the parent that we cannot confirm or deny that any specific person is receiving program services. With your permission, AP staff may discuss your situation with your parents. back to top
Q. I just moved out of an apartment I was sharing with my boyfriend because he began to abuse me. Can the Advocacy Program help me break my lease?
A. The Advocacy Program (AP) will advocate on your behalf with individuals or organizations in the course of assisting you. While we cannot control what a landlord or management company may do, AP advocates have had great success negotiatiing on behalf of our clients under these circumstances. If the client has signed a lease, he or she is party to a legal contract, however, the advocate can encourage the landlord to work with the client to achieve resolution. back to top
Q. Where can I take a women's self defense classes?
A. The USF Police Department offers a women's physical self-defense class called R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense System), which can be taken as a 12-hour basic course or a 2-hour credited semester course through the Physical Education Department at USF. For more information and class registration, contact Judy Fowler at 974-2156 or Jfowler@admin.usf.edu. back to top
Q. I am a male student employee. My friends say that I cannot be sexually harassed at work or at school. Is that true?
A. Males are sexually harassed, both by other men and by women. The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that men are entitled to seek legal redress in cases of sexual harassment, whether the harasser was male or female. back to top
Q. Recently, my girlfriend was raped. She is having a hard time and I am, too. She is a student at USF, but I have graduated and work in the community. Can the Advocacy Program help me support her and also take care of myself?
A. Yes, the program can provide information, support and referrals in these situations. You may also wish to see a private therapist or contact a rape crisis hotline. The Advocacy Program can give you some great referrals. Friends, lovers and family of crime victims have their own reactions and concerns when a loved one becomes a crime victim, and their feelings and concerns deserve care and attention.
Q. I only had a couple of dates with this guy, and I don't want to see him anymore, but he keeps following me around and phoning me at home and at work. No one understands why this is making me worried and upset, and even my mom tells me I should be flattered! What can I do?
A. What you describe may be stalking behavior. Stalking is a crime and stalkers may be dangerous to their victims. Please discuss your situation with the USF police or with the staff at the Advocacy Program. You can also refer to the stalking resources on this website. back to top
Q. My fiancé and I are USF International students. Lately he has been pushing me and shoving me around. The other night he slapped me and screamed at me after he missed a deadline for a report. He says his problems are all my fault and that he can do with me whatever he wants, as he could if we were at home in our own country. He says the U.S. laws mean nothing to him --- he is only here to get a degree. What can I do?
A. Individuals who are non-citizens are subject to the laws of the United States while residing here. In Florida, the behaviors you are describing probably constitute assault, battery, and, if you are living together or have a child, domestic violence. These are criminal acts, and you do not have to submit to them. The Advocacy Program can give you information and support, along with finding you safe housing if necessary. The University Police can investigate the situation and ask the State Attorney's office to charge your fiancé with a crime, if that is warranted. The International Student Services office (Marshall Center, Room 259) can educate you on your rights and responsibilities while you are studying in the United States. back to top
Q. My boyfriend and I have been together since high school. There has always been pushing, shoving and slapping in our relationship. I don't like it, but I love him, and I am sure he will change if he can just get through college, get a good job and we can get married. Don't people just naturally grow out of these things?
A. Most abusers will not stop without intervention. In fact, typically, the abuser escalates his abuse rather than "growing out of it." Your boyfriend has learned that he can get what he wants by using force, intimidation and threat, so he probably sees no reason to stop using these behaviors. Domestic violence treatment programs such as the Family Violence Intervention Program of the Spring of Tampa Bay, Inc. can provide an abusive person the opportunity to change his abusive behavior, but the desire to stop the behavior must be there.
You have the right to a relationship free from violence, fear and abuse. The Advocacy Program can assist you and provide you with additional options and referrals. Please refer to the information on relationship and domestic violence on this website, and contact us for assistance. If at any time you feel you are in danger, please call 911. back to top
Q. I am in a gay relationship. We have been living together for about seven months. During the last four months, he has punched me several times. My partner always says he is sorry and that it won't happen again, but it does. I don't know what to do--will the Advocacy Program help me?
A. The Advocacy Program is a SAFEZONE and every member of our staff has been through SAFEZONE training. We have worked with many people who are in same-sex relationships. We know that being gay or lesbian does not make someone immune to violence within a relationship. An advocate can assist you with safety planning, exploring all available options, filing restraining orders, making police reports, accompaniment to court hearings, finding safe housing and providing other services as needed. It is important that you are safe in a relationship and know that the abuse was not your fault.
Q. I am being followed and harassed by another student but I don't want to get involved with the legal system. What can I do?
A. The Office of Student Rights and Responibilities can help with this situation. All students must abide by the Student Code of Conduct as stated in the Student Handbook. A student who commits an offense may be subject to disciplinary action. An advocate from the Advocacy Program can assist you with safety planning, provide emotional support, explain the process further and provide assistance if you choose to file a grievance, or you can contact Student Rights and Responsibilites directly. back to top
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