Support and Advocacy
Your confidential victim advocate on campus is Cassidy Bernhardt.
Cassidy Bernhardt, MSW, APSWVictim Advocate/Prevention Educator
DeWitt Student & Cultural Center 107C 141 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423
The Victim Advocate Role
The victim advocate and prevention educator’s role is to provide nonjudgmental, private support to student survivors of interpersonal violence. Generally, the victim advocate and prevention educator will not release personally identifiable information about you to anyone without your permission. In rare circumstances, however, they may need to disclose information that was shared with them in confidence, including in circumstances in which an imminent or severe health or safety concern exists, when child abuse or neglect is suspected, or in compliance with a subpoena or court order. Additionally, the victim advocate and prevention educator may need to seek additional consultation from colleagues, either so that the student survivor can receive further professional support, or when professional intervention is needed. While confidentiality is not absolute, as mentioned above, it is rare that the victim advocate and prevention educator needs to share confidential information with others.
Speaking with the victim advocate and prevention educator usually does not trigger a law enforcement response or an internal Hope College process (e.g., investigation, student conduct), unless the student wants to access these options. In rare circumstances, the college may proceed with an inquiry, investigation and/or adjudication of a matter without a complainant’s permission, such as when there is evidence of an imminent or severe health or safety concern or when the results of a violence risk assessment warrant the college’s intervention.
Upon request, the victim advocate and prevention educator can assist a student in initiating or participating in any or all of these processes.
Hope College complies with the Clery Act, a consumer protection law that aims to provide transparency around campus crime policy and statistics. In certain circumstances, Hope College may determine it is necessary to issue a Timely Warning to the campus community regarding reported criminal activity. Information in a Timely Warning is anonymous and not personally identifiable. Timely warnings are generally shared via campus email. The victim advocate and prevention educator or the Title IX coordinator strive to notify the student survivor of the Timely Warning before it is issued and shared with campus.
- WHAT DOES A VICTIM ADVOCATE DO?
A victim advocate is available to respond to student survivors of interpersonal violence and can provide private support over the phone, virtually or in person. Available support may include:
- Referrals to counseling and other supportive services on campus and in the community.
- Education about medical options and procedures, including Sexual Assault Nurse Exams, which are designed to collect forensic evidence left on the body after a sexual assault.
- Information about and referrals to legal advocacy. The victim advocate can also
provide information and support regarding seeking a court ordered Personal Protection
- Support and assistance in reporting an assault to Hope College Campus Safety, if desired.
- Support and assistance in navigating Hope College’s Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination Policy and the resolution processes therein,, if desired.
- Support and assistance in seeking academic, housing, employment or other accommodations from Hope College.
- Assistance for significant others and friends of victim/survivors of interpersonal violence.
- STRENGTH AND EMPOWERMENT SURVIVOR SUPPORT GROUP
We invite all Hope students who have experienced interpersonal violence (e.g., sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, childhood abuse) to join a support group facilitated by a counselor.
This group is mindful of the help and support survivors can provide for each other. We support each member, creating an empowering environment where students can learn new coping skills, share their story, be supported and work towards personal goals.