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These 'Advocates' Help University Students Caught In Abusive Situations

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The increase in domestic violence during the pandemic is affecting college students, too. During the pandemic, the University of California, California State University, and some private colleges have employed “confidential survivors' advocates” to help students and university employees.

These advocates help students with:

  • Hospital visits
  • Filing restraining orders
  • Filing police reports or complaints with university officials
  • Requesting time off, or extensions from professors

Colleges and universities began hiring these advocates about a decade ago, after activists put a spotlight on colleges’ shortcomings in combating sexual abuse.
The pandemic has moved these advocates’ work mostly online. That move has revealed how stay-at-home orders are affecting the dynamics of abuse.

Advocates are finding out that some students who may have been reluctant to step into a university office are seeking out the online services. On the other hand, the shift to online services means some people won’t have privacy if they talk about abuse at home.

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“What we see is people isolating with individuals who may be abusing them,” said Amanda Mount, director of UC Irvine’s Campus Assault Resources and Education office. “When they come to us seeking support (we) assist them in getting to a safe location.”

These advocates are also seeing a disturbing trend: a rise in digital abuse in which a perpetrator, usually a romantic partner, uses phone apps and other digital platforms to abuse and harass.

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