Discourse / Editorials / September 28, 2011

Thoughts from the Embers: The need for an advocate

In the story, “County loses victim advocate” in this issue of The Knox Student, Charlie Gorney reported that the sexual assault advocate position in Knox County will no longer exist due to financial issues.

The post, which was originally funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allowed for a quick response to sexual assault issues that happened in the Galesburg community and at Knox College.

While the service will still be available through the Warren County office, the response time after an incident will grow, a time in which the advocate could have provided vital help to the party involved.

The need for a quick response time is similar to firefighters responding to a fire or ambulances responding to an injured person.

Would Galesburg residents be fine with having to wait for members of the Monmouth Fire Department to come to Galesburg to respond to a fire in their house? We can say with utmost certainty that they wouldn’t stand for it. There would be mass protests until the services were restored.

Certainly sexual assault doesn’t affect everyone in Galesburg or at Knox, but neither does fire, and that does not lessen the need for an emergency service. What makes a fire, robbery or a crash any different then a sexual assault case?

This key service, which helps many members of the community, has left without a fight.

Scattered donations have allowed it to stay open for a few months after the original funds died up. The lack of support from local government, organizations and entities for the service that their citizens rely on is disappointing. It is disappointing that the purse strings are becoming more important than the well-being of their citizens.

Certainly we can all debate where cuts should be made during major budget shortfalls around the state and the country, but the destruction of social services such as this sexual assault advocate will directly effect many more than fixing a pot hole on Main Street or making sure the grass in every park is mowed.

While having a county-wide system is great, we should also ask ourselves if it is justified to expand the service so there is an individual for Galesburg alone. If there were an advocate for Knox County and one for Galesburg, it would allow for quick responses and help when two cases are reported at the same time.

The lack of a local advocate can also lead to an increase in people who are sexually assaulted not reporting the event or not asking for help in fear of a slow response or a lack of knowledge that the program even exists.

There also needs to be an increase in funding for preventing these situations, but even with increased funds, there will still be sexual assaults and a need for this advocate.

TKS Staff

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