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Empowering survivors: The vital role of victim advocate services

According to a study done by the National Institute of Justice, 20-25% of female students and 6-8% of male students have experienced some form of violence during their time on campus.

The University of Utah Public Department of Safety recognizes the significance of this statement and how victim advocacy is important not just for students but all public safety on the U’s campus. The UUPDS Victim Advocacy Services Program is here to empower victim advocates with informed decision-making about what to do next in case of a victim of crime. 

Crime victim advocacy on the university campus

Hilary White, the crime victim advocate coordinator for the University of Utah Department of Public Safety, provided some information about the ways she and other advocates empower victim-survivors to make informed decisions about what they want to do next.

Hilary comes from an experienced background in domestic violence and sexual assault local resources with her work at YWCA Utah. She uses this experience to help victims who’ve been harmed by providing information, support, and advocacy. “The most important thing that I do with anybody is help them develop a safety plan. Support can include conducting danger assessments, assisting with protection orders, and providing education around domestic violence or trauma, how it affects the brain and the body, etc.,” Hilary explains. 

There are two other important steps Hilary values taking with her victim-survivors. With her knowledge of the criminal system, she can not only educate them but provide them with moral support whether in an interview with the police or attending court. She also provides referrals to the different partners we have on campus and even those other off-campus resources. Lastly, she aids them through their navigating things at the university. For her, That could include Title IX and the Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action processes as well as academic adjustments. 

For Hilary, it’s her job to be an expert in all resources that may help victim-survivors to make an informed decision about what they want to do next. 

What to know

Hilary and the UUPDS, want the public to know that there is help available, whether or not someone wants to report. 

If an individual does not want to report, they can use the victim-survivor advocates (VSAs) with the Center for Student Wellness. The VSAs provide many of the same resources, and they are confidential (i.e., not mandatory reporters). 

If an individual wants support through the reporting process with the University of Utah Police Department, a team of crime victim advocates can provide that assistance. While VSAs are available by appointment, the team is available 24/7 so if someone needs safety planning at 2 a.m. they can answer the phone. 

If you’ve been harmed in some way, get in contact with someone who can help you navigate what to do next. Don’t hesitate to reach out because there are so many ways the university can provide support.

 Whatever the situation is, I can help someone know what their options are for getting resources.- Hilary

How to contact the victim advocates in the Department of Safety

If someone is experiencing an emergency, always call 911. If you need help with safety planning or other resources the victim advocates offer, you can call 801-585-2677 at any time of the day and ask to be transferred to a victim advocate. That is the same number you can call for the police or a security escort. If your request is not time-sensitive, you can email More information about the services we offer can be found here.