What is medical advocacy?

Medical advocacy is the same advocacy services we provide everywhere, but specific to medical settings. After sexual assault, a person may wish to receive medical care right away and/or have evidence collected. If a survivor chooses to go to the emergency department, they are entitled to an Advocate who can support them emotionally, provide information about their options, and help them feel comfortable during their medical care.

What does a medical advocate do?

When a medical advocate is working with a survivor in the hospital, their whole job is to provide the survivor with support. Some examples of what an advocate might do are:

  • Some survivors need to talk about their feelings, so their advocate may listen, provide comfort, and help them process what has happened.
  • Some survivors have specific questions about the process of making a police report, having a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) exam, or going through other systems, so their advocate may share information and resources.
  • Some survivors need someone to help them make a plan for their ongoing safety, so their advocate may help them make plans and connect with other support systems.
How do we determine when an advocate’s services are finished?

As soon as a survivor no longer wants their advocate present, the advocate will leave. Some survivors want an advocate for the whole time they’re in the hospital and others would rather have privacy. Whatever the survivor wants is fine — they can tell their advocate to leave immediately or ask their advocate to stay. Our most important value is that the survivor is always in charge.

How does a person get a medical Advocate?

Typically, a person goes to the emergency room and tells the clinical staff that they have experienced sexual assault. The hospital will call SASS directly to request an Advocate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I call SASS directly if I need a medical Advocate?

If you are planning to go to the hospital for crisis medical care and/or a SAFE exam, you are always welcome to call SASS’s 24/7 Crisis and Support Hotline to speak with an advocate about what to expect; however, we must wait until we are notified by the hospital before providing in person services.

Can I request support from an Advocate if I’m having other medical care?

Yes! Depending on staff availability, Advocates can support survivors as they go to follow up medical appointments, etc. Please call the 24/7 Crisis and Support Hotline in advance to see if an advocate is available at the time of your appointment.

What if I’m not in Lane County, Oregon?

Looking for advocacy services located in Oregon outside of Lane County? Find them here (listed by county)

For services located elsewhere within the U.S., contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)