CARE office provides support, advocacy and education for victims of interpersonal violence

Clara Kientz (left), VOCA advocate at the CARE Center, and Caitlin Carrington (right), coordinator at the CARE Center, pose in front of their office in Holton Hall. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

Twenty seven reports of various types of interpersonal violence took place on either campus property or in specific off-campus buildings that are either owned, leased or controlled by Kansas State in 2015, according to K-State’s Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report of 2016. These reports included sex offenses, domestic and dating violence, stalking, rape and fondling.

To provide support for survivors of these crimes as well as to advocate for and educate the community, the K-State Center for Advocacy, Response and Education office works to assist victims of these types of violence on how to understand the university policies and procedures as well as how to succeed personally and academically, according to the CARE website.

“We provide advocacy and education for the campus and community, and so basically what that means is that we strive to provide advocacy for those who are survivors of interpersonal violence or gender-based violence,” Clara Kientz, advocate and educator of the CARE office, said. “With that goal, it most typically includes responding to forms of violence such as domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking and sexual harassment.”

Kientz said the office also meets with family and friends of the survivors, as the office recognizes the effects of being close to someone who is a victim of interpersonal violence.

Caitlin Carrington, coordinator of the CARE office, said their work does not stop at just helping the survivors.

“Another portion of what we do is a lot of education and outreach with the campus and local community,” Carrington said. “We’re always doing presentations for student groups on things like consent, sexual violence, bystander intervention, healthy relationships and things like that because we have a heavy focus on supporting survivors but also trying to diminish the amount of violence that does take place.”

Carrington said she and Kientz are always learning the best practices to do so, and by engaging with the others in the field and attending workshops, it will allow them to keep up with the newest findings of how to best assist survivors of this type of violence.

“The CARE office is here to be very survivor-centered and so we will attempt to support survivors in the best way that we can,” Carrington said.

Kientz said while she realizes prevention is a big part of what they do, there are many people who are in need right now of the services the CARE office provides.

“I want to be able to assist those individuals who may not be aware of what to do or where to go and just be a support system for them,” Kientz said.

Why they do what they do

Emma Barnett, senior in political science and a student employee of the CARE office, said she feels the CARE office is an important resource that K-State provides.

“Options are a very important thing when someone has experienced violence because their autonomy has been taken away, so being able to give that autonomy back to students, faculty and staff and say, ‘You get to decide what your options are’ and, ‘You get to decide what you do next’ is important,” Barnett said. “It’s awesome to be able to see survivors be able to heal through the services that the CARE office provides.”

For Carrington, she said she worries interpersonal violence may become normalized.

“I feel people are becoming unaffected by the statistics and it’s sort of becoming like that’s just what happens in our culture —woman are assaulted and brutalized,” Carrington said. “I want to take a proactive part in working to both fight that and help the people that are victims of this because I don’t want it to become a thing that we’re desensitized to. I want people to keep being upset and shocked by (the statistics), rather than it just becoming mainstream.”

The misconceptions

Carrington said she wishes more people knew the office can provide support for all students, faculty and staff.

“Even though the majority of people that we see do identify as female, we are here for everyone, and we can be helpful for any person,” Carrington said. “I wish people knew we were a larger entity than just helping sexual assault victims and us just saying ‘here are your options.’”

Kientz said there is a misconception across campus that CARE only serves individuals who experience sexual violence or sexual assault.

“We serve anyone who has experienced any kind of interpersonal violence or gender-based violence,” Kientz said. “We also serve faculty and staff in addition to students. Our office is a safe space and our goal is to empower survivors so that they can make decisions on what they feel is most comfortable.”

Kientz said the office is not required to report any of the information a survivor tells them, but that there are limitations to confidentiality.

“We always let individuals who come into our office know what (their) confidentiality limitations might be before we get into any further conversations with them,” Kientz said.

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!