The Sexual Assault Crisis Program (SACP) supports survivors through all stages of their healing journey and volunteers play a key role in this important service. Volunteering in SACP allows people to experience providing both telephone-based crisis counselling, as well as in-person peer support and advocacy to people who have experienced a sexual assault or have been impacted by the sexual assault of another person. In-person support and advocacy occurs most often in hospital or police settings. To reflect the unique contribution that volunteers make when working in SACP, this role is referred to as a SACP Advocate.
In addition to providing phone-based crisis counselling, SACP Advocates also work unsupervised in the community, meet with clients in person, liaise with multiple service providers, and do a significant amount of advocacy work. This work happens most often in hospital settings and at police headquarters. We recognize that in-person Sexual Assault Trauma work is multilayered and complex and requires our staff and volunteers to have specific training and experience in order to provide quality care to our clients. As such, there are additional expectations for volunteers to participate in SACP.
All SACP Advocates must:
- Be female-identified, as our clients of all genders have identified that having a female-identified worker feels safest.
- Complete Crisis Volunteer Training and a minimum of three months volunteering on the phone lines in the crisis program.
- Demonstrate a high level of competency in the crisis program in all skills required of SACP advocates
- Commit to one 4-hour shift weekly, two over-night on-calls per month, and one 1.5-hour supervision group per month for a minimum of 6 months.
These requirements reflect the complex nature of working in-person with survivors who are experiencing sexual assault trauma responses, and the more independent nature of this role.
More about the SACP Advocate Role & Requirements
Why do applicants have to complete 3 months on the phone lines before participating in SACP?
Volunteers who are interested in becoming a SACP Advocate first need to complete Crisis Volunteer Training, and a three-month probationary period as a Crisis Program volunteer. This probationary period gives new volunteers the opportunity to develop the necessary crisis intervention and communication skills with the support of staff and experienced volunteers in the crisis room. An evaluation after three months also gives active volunteers important feedback on their observable skills, areas of strength, and those skills needing additional practice.
Once the probationary period has ended, volunteers who have demonstrated an aptitude for the skills needed for in-person advocacy and support may communicate their interest in pursuing a more involved role with SACP.
What additional training and skills do SACP Advocates Require?
SACP Advocates are required to attend an additional 16-hours of specialized SACP training, as well as 8 hours of human trafficking awareness training. To be eligible for the additional SACP training volunteers must demonstrate a solid grasp of crisis counselling skills, clear communication skills, assertiveness, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, strong assessment skills, and an openness to feedback. During the specialized SACP training applicants will be given the opportunity to demonstrate a solid grasp of relevant information we are required to provide to clients, an ability to advocate clearly and professionally, and an ability to respond to trauma-responses with immediacy through role plays and other relevant learning opportunities.
What might advocacy look like in this context?
We do our work using an empowerment model that focuses on supporting the hopes and choices of the survivor. We also work from a Trauma-Informed lens which we use to understand the wide variety of responses survivors may experience following sexualized violence and the needs they have as a result. Volunteering as a SACP Advocate may mean providing support and advocacy with the police, at the hospital or in court, or at any other medical or legal follow-up appointments related to the sexual assault. This extends to taking an active role in facilitating communication between clients, systems, secondary survivors, and working closely with our partners on the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). SACP Advocates will also be trained in completing Third Party Reports should a survivor be interested in making an anonymous report to the police.
Additional Information about the SACP Commitment
After the specialized SACP and human trafficking awareness trainings have been completed, individuals will be expected to honour a 6-month volunteer commitment consisting of one 4-hour phone shift per week in the Crisis Room, two overnight on-call shifts per month, and one 1.5 hour small group supervision session each month. People will need to identify a consistent shift they can regularly fulfil each week in the crisis room, but have the opportunity to be flexible for different on-call shifts month-to-month.
SACP Advocates are scheduled in the crisis room every day of the week from 8am-noon, noon-4pm, 4pm-8pm, and 8pm-midnight; however, not all shifts can accommodate new volunteers. It is important to be aware while a SACP Advocate will be expected to answer all incoming phone lines, should the hospital or police call with a request to support an individual, the SACP Advocate on shift will be asked to leave the crisis room to provide in-person advocacy and support at the hospital or police station. Overnight on-call shifts are scheduled from midnight to 8am every night of the week. This coverage is utilized to respond to hospital calls. Advocates must have some availability during the week and on weekends each month to complete their two on-call shifts.
Why do SACP Advocates attend additional monthly supervision?
SACP Advocates may participate in all aspects of client care immediately following a sexual assault. This can include hearing about the trauma the survivor has experienced, seeing injuries, being present during medical care, and being present during police statements. It is important to recognize the impact this can have on the SACP Advocate and the need for the SACP Advocate to participate in ongoing self-reflection and care. While it is also critical for SACP Advocates to care for themselves and seek their own support, SACP supervision offers an opportunity to connect with and be supported by other SACP Advocates regarding their work and how they are noticing it impacting themselves.
How do I get involved with SACP?
Step One: Review the Volunteer Requirements and process for participating in the Crisis Program, and complete an application form.
Step Two: Successfully complete the Crisis Volunteer Training followed by three months of volunteering in the Crisis Program.
Step Three: Volunteers will be offered the opportunity to attend the SACP extended training once they have expressed an interest in SACP advocacy, successfully completed their three month probationary period, and demonstrated the necessary skills for in-person and independent work.
Step Four: Applicants attend SACP extended training, which takes place over two consecutive Saturdays scheduled several times throughout the year. This will be an opportunity to assess skills specific to the SACP role further, and for staff to make a final decision about the applicant’s readiness. New advocates will be paired with an experienced SACP Advocate for three months following the extended training to support their learning and skill development, and are expected to participate in group supervision as an important component in their training and support.