Campus Victim Advocate Supports Students

woman texting on cell phone
Rebecca A. Eckland

Did you know that TMCC has a Campus Victim Advocate? Since Spring 2020, Gwyndelyn Thompson has served as the temporary and now full-time TMCC Campus Victim Advocate. “The risk of sexual assault for college students is very high,” she said, citing statistics that demonstrate that interpersonal violence is both extremely prevalent and underreported among college students.
Some studies suggest up to 32% of college students will have experienced sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking during their college careers. According to data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the numbers are startling: 

  • 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted during their college career
  • 1 in 13 men will be sexually assaulted during their college career
  • 8 in 10 survivors knew their attacker
  • 95% of cases go unreported

These numbers are, of course, approximations pointing to the prevalence of this kind of violence that, more often than not, goes unreported. “It’s difficult to obtain accurate data due to the lack of disclosures. There are many reasons why someone might choose to not report, and a survey by RAINN shared some of the reasons why students chose not to report sexual assault have been due to a belief that what happened was a personal matter or not important enough to report,” said Thompson, who explained that victims don’t always identify themselves as such, or don’t see that the violence against them was a form of trauma.

“I hope to spread awareness that there are many forms of support available. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone,” she said. “You can get support without having to make a report. I’m here to meet a survivor where they are and respect their wishes for future action,” she said.

Thompson is a Reno native and has a longtime passion for supporting our local community, and has acted as a volunteer for many local non-profit organizations. In fact, this is what led her to her current position as the TMCC Campus Victim Advocate. “By actively volunteering with a handful of non-profit organizations that focus on advocacy and support, I eventually found myself involved in the volunteer training for the Crisis Support Services of Nevada (CSSNV) in Spring 2019,” she said.

History of Crisis Support Services of Nevada

CSSNV is one of the longest continuously operating crisis intervention centers in the country. It was established in 1966 as an outreach program for the University of Nevada, Reno in response to the high suicide rate in our state. Working with Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, a plan was created to establish a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline through the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In the first few months of operations, the need for this service proved to be so great that the center was expanded to include support for any persons in any type of crisis. 

Over the years, the CSSNV has continued to grow and evolve in response to community needs which includes services that address other crisis situations, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, bullying, and child/elder abuse or neglect.  

“In 2018, the Crisis Call Center went through a renaming and rebranding process to better reflect what the organization has become, what we plan on becoming in the future and the new services we are developing, not just regionally, but for the whole state,” said Thompson.  “The Crisis Call Center and Sexual Assault Support Services are still going strong; we are just working under the name ‘Crisis Support Services of Nevada,’ which is more reflective of everything we do: to be a beacon of hope in people’s darkest moments by providing compassion, empowerment and education.”

In 2020, Crisis Support Services was contacted 77,830 times with 4,311 of those contacts being text messages by mostly youth under 18 years of age. Of those 77,830 people who reached out for assistance, 20,322 were from the state of Nevada. CSSNV staff took 2,257 Child Abuse Reports, as well as 340 abuse and neglect reports for seniors and adults with disabilities. All services provided by Crisis Support Services are free of charge.

How a Campus Victims Advocate Can Help You

Like the services provided by Crisis Support Services, the support offered by TMCC’s Campus Victim Advocate are completely free and intended to support you if you have been the victim of interpersonal violence, which includes sexual assault, stalking, trafficking, domestic or dating violence, bullying or harassment. 

Even if you aren’t sure or are confused about an uncomfortable experience, the Campus Victim Advocate can offer a safe space to express thoughts, concerns and to work together to explore whether or not your rights have been violated.

“My role is to provide confidential, compassionate support to anyone in the college community who has experienced interpersonal violence. I’m here to listen...and those who do reach out are always in control of how much they choose to share about their experiences,” Thompson said. “This could be something that happened recently, or in the past.”

Free services that are available through the Campus Victim Advocate include: 

  • Private and confidential consultation to address any immediate or past concerns
  • Immediate crisis intervention
  • Safety planning
  • Explanation of victim’s rights in the state of Nevada
  • Personal advocacy- assistance with your boss, landlord, professor, etc. 
  • Emotional support 
  • Appropriate counseling and community resources referrals 
  • Accompaniment to the hospital or forensic exam
  • Accompaniment to make police report/file for a protection order
  • Information on available campus and criminal justice support and processes
  • Assistance in filing victim compensation applications 

The bottom line: if you are a member of the TMCC community and you feel alone or you don’t know how to find help, Thompson can connect you to community and school resources while offering follow-up support via text or calls. You are never alone. 

Weekly Support Group

In order to underscore the message—and the mission—that you are never alone, there is also a weekly support group for student survivors, and is currently accepting applications for new members to join.  Thompson ensures that all are welcome in that safe space to connect with peers, to be respected and heard.

“My goal is to be a safe and trusted source of aid to the TMCC community,” said Thompson. “As an advocate, I do not make judgments. I do not investigate. I listen, I hold space, and I ask what is needed to help with an individual’s healing process.”

To reach TMCC’s Victim Advocate, call or text 775-771-8724. For more information about Crisis Support Services of Nevada, contact them using the 24/7 SASS Hotline: 775-221-7600.