This fall, the Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention program hired Casie Wofford as a full-time advocate to focus on students and the program’s peer educators.
After an approximate three-month search, Wofford began working on July 16, said Jessica Sanchez, Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention assistant director.
As a full-time advocate, Wofford will assist with the program’s goals and objectives. Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention provides and promotes education, support, awareness and referral services and houses a Peer Educator program. The program also works with Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and UTA Police.
“We’re here if somebody needs support,” Wofford said. “We’re also here to really focus on building a healthy culture around relationships and consent.”
Wofford started advocacy work in 2015 as a volunteer for the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center. She mainly did crisis intervention and accompanied people to their forensic exams.
“I absolutely loved that work,” she said.
Wofford said she wanted to become an advocate at UTA because it will allow her to work on prevention and help those affected by violence or assault. As she starts in her new position, she said it’s important to listen to what students need and identify the conversations that need to take place.
The program promotes prevention not only on campus but also the surrounding community, Wofford said. It starts with the individual, and that person can bring it into their community.
Sanchez said last semester she had to work on some things on her own, and she is excited to have Wofford in the full-time advocate position now.
Oshina Jagtap, physics junior and peer educator with the program, said they do campaigns to educate and raise awareness through some creative methods like the Red Flag Campaign and the Clothesline Project.
Sanchez said when someone contacts them, they send out an email informing the person of the resources available to students on campus through programs such as CAPS, Health Services, UTA Police and Crime Victim Services.
“If a student reaches out to us or we get a referral, we’re at least going to reach out to that student three to five times, both by phone, both by email,” Sanchez said. “That’s another form of [empowerment] — letting the student come in when they’re ready.”
Wofford said sometimes people aren’t ready to walk into their office or into counseling and maybe they would like to go somewhere else outside of UTA. The Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention program provides the means to ensure those resources are accessible.
“The most important thing: believing survivors and victims,” Jagtap said. “It is not a good place to be if you have experienced sexual harassment or you’re going through any mental health issue, and you reach out, and no one believes you. No one wants to feel that way.”