“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to empower my clients and offer empathy and support in times of crisis,” says UCI victim advocate Jaclyn Wright. Chris Nugent / UC Irvine

Safe haven

Campus’s CARE office, new victim advocate are committed to supporting those subjected to sexual violence, harassment

Survivors of sexual assault and related crimes have a strong ally in Jaclyn Wright, UC Irvine’s new campus advocate. She provides services that include crisis counseling and safety planning, accompaniment to exams or interviews, emergency transportation, assistance with restraining orders and nonjudgmental support.

Wright holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She counseled troubled and at-risk children ages 11 to 17 at the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter before joining UCI’s Campus Assault Resources & Education office in November. The office has employed a victim advocate since 2012.

“Our campus advocate plays a key role in providing confidential support and assistance to survivors of sexual assault and harassment,” says Chancellor Howard Gillman. “This is a critically important position and reflects our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all at UC Irvine.”

The University of California Office of the President announced last week that all UC campuses now have or will soon have a confidential advocate who works full time as a resource for survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking and domestic violence.

Since 2005, UCI’s CARE office has supported the goal of providing an academic atmosphere free of violence and discrimination. Available services include consultation, counseling, advocacy, referrals, educational programs and training.

The office’s three-tiered response model (trauma-informed, community and administrative) has been highlighted nationally at various conferences and events, including the National Sexual Assault Conference, the National Center for Victims of Crime Conference, and Texas Association Against Sexual Assault training for law enforcement and Title IX staff.

UCI’s sexual assault programs have also been publicly recognized as best practices by state Sen. Kevin de Leon; Lynn Rosenthal, the White House adviser on violence against women; and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

In addition, the CARE office has developed innovative responses to the problem of sexual assault on campus, such as a fully online prevention education module for incoming students and a “Yoga as Healing” class, headed by CARE assistant director Zabie Khorakiwala ’07.

“We are one of the only programs that is expanding beyond advocacy to offer comprehensive holistic healing programs that meet the needs of our culturally diverse community,” says Mandy Mount, Ph.D., director of the CARE office.

Wright, who is contracted through Community Service Programs, Inc., enjoys her new role as victim advocate.

“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to empower my clients and offer empathy and support in times of crisis,” she says. “My office is always open to students who need a safe and confidential space to discuss their experiences with sexual violence and harassment.”

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