RVA is an Illinois not-for-profit organization made up of many individuals with two primary goals: to assure that survivors of sexual assault are treated with dignity and compassion; and to affect changes in the way the legal system, medical institutions and society as a whole respond to survivors.
RVA focuses on both social service and social change. Through our presence in Chicago area emergency rooms, we provide nonjudgmental emotional support to victims of sexual violence, enabling them to become survivors. By providing basic legal and medical information, and referrals to other service organizations, we help the survivor make informed decisions. We also offer survivors continued support through telephone follow-up and our staff of counselors and legal advocates. Through these services, we enable survivors to regain control over their lives as quickly as possible. Through our work with the Chicago Police Department, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and other area institutions, we strive to improve the treatment of survivors as a group in our society. RVA offers three distinct program areas: Counseling (individual and group), Advocacy (legal and medical) and Education & Training.
HERE'S HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH RVA:
1. Get involved in events and programs! Check out our upcoming events
2. Volunteer! Call 312.443.9603 to receive more information. Or you can
contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical Advocates take two twelve hour shifts per month for a time commitment of 12 months. RVA volunteers provide short-term crisis counseling and nonjudgmental support. Every volunteer must complete a minimum of 56-hours in RVA’s training course in order to be certified as a medical advocate. This course covers basic psychological, medical, and legal aspects of sexual assault.
Education and Training
Educators speak at schools, rallies, help train new medical advocates and others working directly with survivors. This is a wonderful opportunity to help educate other people about sexual assault. Each speaker must have completed the 56 hour medical advocacy training and additional educational training to speak on behalf of our organization.
Volunteers and members of the community are welcome to serve on one of many different committees which help meet current needs and determine the future of our organization. There is also an application process to become a member of our board.
The History of RVA
Rape Victim Advocates was formed in 1974 by obstetrician/gynecologist Natalie Stephens, M.D., and a group of Northwestern University medical and nursing students concerned about survivors of sexual assault. They recognized that standard hospital resources were not sufficient for the special needs of the survivor. These founding advocates educated themselves about Rape Trauma Syndrome a cluster of physical and emotional responses experienced by nearly all those who experience sexual assault, identified by Burgess and Holmstrom in the course of their work as counselors of survivors of sexual assault at Boston City Hospital, Boston Mass.
In July of 1975, RVA began working with the emergency room staff of a single hospital. The advocates volunteered to be on call in 12 to 24 hour shifts, assuring that, at any given time, a volunteer would be available to serve the survivors of sexual assault. In 2012, RVA is now serving fourteen hospitals in the Chicago area.
Our advocates are available to provide service to survivors of sexual assault 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We also offer sexual assault crisis intervention training to hospitals with in-house volunteer programs. RVA encourages anyone concerned with the well-being of survivors of sexual assault to join us in serving them, their families, and Chicago's Austin Community.