Spring Hill College has created a new partnership with Lifelines Counseling Services in Mobile, AL.
According to SHC’s Title IX Coordinator Patricia Davis, the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) that was well-known for providing on-campus resources for victims “has evolved into highlighting Lifelines' resources upon the recommendation of the Wellness Center professionals.” The official SART page on Badgerweb states that SART now responds through Lifelines Rape Crisis Center, a division of Lifelines Counseling Services. Vice President of Student Affairs Kevin Abel said, “We believe that Lifelines offers important resources and connections, and it is important to have them as a campus partner.”
The new partnership has many students confused about where to go to report sexual misconduct and what resources are available both on and off-campus. According to Davis, students have both confidential and non-confidential reporting options. If a student wishes for their report to remain confidential, one should consult Lifelines Counseling Services, the SHC Wellness Center, or a priest (when acting in a role of a pastoral counselor). The aforementioned resources are not required to pass on reports of sexual misconduct to anyone else. All other SHC employees are considered to be “responsible employees” who have a duty to pass on reports of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator and/or to Student Affairs employees not associated with the Wellness Center. “If a report is made to a responsible employee, the College will attempt to honor a request for confidentiality, but cannot promise that wish will override its duty to act after analyzing potential ability to redress the event for that student, as well as how confidentiality might affect the safety of all students and the campus as a whole,” said Davis.
Students may also choose to make a report directly to law enforcement; however, victims are not required to report to law enforcement in order to receive assistance from or pursue any options provided by the College.
If a student wishes to use the new resource of Lifelines in the event of sexual misconduct, the organization offers 24-hour crisis intervention, individual counseling, support groups, hospital advocates, criminal justice accompaniment, education and information and referral services. Coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center, a division of Lifelines Counseling Services, Laury Rowland said, “I think it’s important to note that anytime someone experiences some type of sexual trauma, whether that be rape, sexual harassment, whatever it might be, that it doesn’t just affect one aspect of a person’s life. Lifelines is unique in the fact that we offer services for many different types of things.” According to Rowland, Lifelines Counseling Services consists of three divisions: the Family Counseling Center, Consumer Credit Counseling Services, and Outreach and Education (which includes the Rape Crisis Center). All three of these divisions are open to Spring Hill College students, and counseling is not limited to sexual assault.
If an SHC student contacts Lifelines in the event of a rape crisis, he or she will be directly connected to a trained volunteer advocate. The advocate will then walk with the victim step-by-step through the difficult time, even meeting the victim at the hospital immediately following the trauma. Rowland explained that a Lifelines advocate will stand by a victim from “report to court,” meaning a victim will have constant assistance throughout the entire process, even if he or she chooses to take legal action. Assistance through Lifelines is readily available through the 24-hour crisis hotline at (251) 473-7273.
Concerning the new partnership, Junior Makayla Paige said, “I really like the fact that Lifelines provides more resources for students, and it is really impressive that the advocates will meet victims at the hospital following a rape crisis. It’s important for sexual assault victims to have support during that time so that they don’t feel that they are alone.”
Rowland would like SHC students to know that Lifelines Counseling Services is currently looking for additional Rape Crisis volunteers. Volunteers are trained to accompany victims at the hospital immediately following assaults, answer crisis call and participate in community events and fundraising opportunities. All potential volunteers are asked to attend a screening interview, which includes a background check, and will receive specialized training. Interested SHC students may contact Victim Advocate Katie Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org.