Patricia Dawson: A Survivor's Advocate

Meet Patricia Dawson, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Gustavus in Health Services and SART Team Leader. SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) works to provide support and resources for victims of sexual assault on the Gustavus campus.

What is the main thing you want students to know about Sexual Assault Response Team?

“I want students to know that Gustavus has a confidential resource available to them to assist in accessing any of the resources that are available on or off campus.”

Why was the Gustavus chapter of SART created?

“SART was created to provide a safe and confidential place for victims.”

What is your role on the team?

“My role is the team lead but mainly my role is to be an advocate, along with the other team members.  Advocacy involves support for the victim, providing resources for the victim, and providing referrals for the victims. The role of the victim advocate is to support them and to provide them with resources.  That can look different for each person as the needs of each victim are so different.”

How would you describe your experience in this line of work?

“It is always a good feeling to hear back from a survivor that you have helped.  This role is challenging—you don't always know if you are being effective.  Each victim’s needs are so different and as an advocate you must approach each situation keeping that in mind.”

What specific resources does the team offer?

“SART can assist students with contacting law enforcement, making a complaint to the college, getting counseling services or medical attention.  SART can assist the students if arrangements are needed with classes or housing.  It is also available to help the student understand the different resources available and how to access the resources.  SART is confidential so it is a good place for students to start if they are unsure of how they want to proceed.”

* A member of the team can be reached 24 hours by calling 507-933-6868. *

What to do if you are sexually assaulted:

1. Always get to a safe place.

2. If you think you want evidence collected, do not bathe, shower, brush your teeth or go to the bathroom. This is important for preserving evidence.

3. If you want to have a pill to prevent pregnancy (Plan B is available in Health Service or at some pharmacies) you should take the medication within 72 hours.

4. If you are concerned about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) or would like STI testing, staff in Health Services or local clinics can assist with this as well.

5. If you think you want to make an official report on-campus or police report, assistance will be provided by a SART member or someone from Crime Victim Services.

6. GET SUPPORT. No matter what decisions you make, you have done the best you can. You deserve to have all resources available.


Helpful Responses if someone you know has been sexually assaulted and comes to you:

- Believe your friend

- Maintain a calm manner

- Listen without interrupting - Encourage your friend to take whatever time is necessary

- Respect the language your friend uses to identify what has happened

- Understand that individuals from different backgrounds may express or experience reactions to an assault in different ways

- Validate your friend's experience or reactions

- Remind your friend that he or she is not at fault

- Help your friend identify other safe people in his or her existing support system

- Encourage, but do NOT force, your friend to seek medical attention and counseling - Provide resources

- Allow your friend to make his or her own decisions