The Women’s Resource Center at Northern Illinois University has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance services to victims of stalking, dating violence, domestic violence and sexual assault.
“The funding will strengthen victim services campus-wide and will truly have a positive impact on the entire campus,” Dunlap said.
“The federal government recognizes that these are issues on all college campuses and awards the grants annually,” she added. “It is a highly competitive award, based the strength of your plan to improve coordination of services and heighten collaboration among community agents.”
Dunalp said the Women’s Resource Center expects to hire the new victim advocacy coordinator by January.
In addition to helping coordinate services for victims, the victim advocate will collaborate with Safe Passage, the domestic violence and sexual assault agency serving DeKalb County, to provide advanced training to NIU personnel throughout campus.
The victim advocate also will be responsible for further developing protocols and policies for victims on campus, creating a campus-based advocacy manual and creating a website for coordinated community responses.
“We already provide services to victims on the NIU campus, but the goal is to strengthen the existing coordinated community responses and ensure that police, counseling, legal advocacy and other community services are seamless and centralized,” Dunlap said. “We also want to avoid the potential for a victim to be re-traumatized by having to repeat his or her story.”
The grant also provides funding to build on existing prevention and education efforts and purchase new equipment that will assist police in their investigations.
Funding for the new grant comes through the landmark Violence Against Women Act, which became law 16 years ago. It aims to improve the criminal justice system’s response to violence against women and to increase services available to victims.