Advocate Services

What are Victim Advocates?

Our Victim Advocates are professionals trained to support victims, survivors, and bystanders of power-based violence. Research demonstrates that exposure to violence can have significant long-term and short-term negative effects, and students who are subject to violence victimization often experience challenges to their academic success and mental and physical well-being.

Our Advocates provide direct services to victim, survivors, and bystanders including: safety planning, academic safety planning, emotional support, referrals to other departments and agencies, legal accompaniment, and assistance in locating resources. Our advocates may contact campus departments, such as Financial Aid, Academic Advising, or Counseling, and community organizations, such as criminal justice or social service agencies, to assist survivors.

OVAVP also currently provides trauma-informed counseling services to UTRGV students who have experienced violence victimization (thanks to a grant from the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division).

Our advocacy services are free to all campus community members (students, faculty, and staff) and are confidential, to the extent allowed by law. We can also provide information and assistance in locating resources to any RGV community member in general, in both English and Spanish, and we offer frequent, no-cost trainings to community members and professionals, although we cannot provide confidential advocacy services to those who are not members of the UTRGV community.

What Advocates Can Do

Our advocates can support victims, survivors, and bystanders through:

  • Providing information on victimization
  • Providing information on crime prevention
  • Providing information on survivors' legal rights and protections
  • Providing information on the criminal justice process
  • Providing emotional support to survivors
  • Helping survivors with safety planning
  • Intervening with University staff, faculty, and departments on behalf of survivors
  • Helping survivors find shelter and transportation
  • Providing referrals for other services for survivors

What Advocacy Isn’t

Our advocates are trained to support victims, survivors, and bystanders of power-based violence; however, they are not counseling, medical, or legal professionals. Although services provided by advocates are supportive, they are not intended to replace or substitute services provided by counseling, medical, or legal professionals. Instead, our advocates can connect victims, survivors, and bystanders with appropriate professionals for desired services.

Getting Connected

If you want to connect with one of our victim advocates, please email us at OVAVP@utrgv.edu or call us at 956-665-8287. Our services are FREE and CONFIDENTIAL.