Our Programs

Advocacy Program

Since 1975, PAVSA has been serving youth and adult victim/survivors of sexual violence 12 years of age and older. The core of PAVSA services is our Advocacy Program. The role of an advocate is to provide information, offer options and support victim/survivors in their decision. Advocates empower victim/survivors as they define their own healing process. Advocates share knowledge, offer resources and help victim/survivors as they navigate the many systems related to an act of sexual violence including law enforcement and prosecution. Hundreds of individuals receive PAVSA advocacy services each year.

In addition to staff advocates, PAVSA trains volunteer sexual assault advocates to provide coverage on the 24-hour crisis line and hospital advocacy outside of regular office hours. For more information on volunteering with PAVSA, contact Erin at 218/726-1442 or enaughton@pavsa.org

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program

The SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Program, a collaborative project of PAVSA, St. Luke’s Hospital and Essentia Health, is a community-based medical and forensic response to victims of sexual assault. SANE exams are essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of sexual assault in our community.

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners are trained in the collection of forensic evidence, medical/legal interviewing and documentation, the dynamics of sexual assault and expert witness testimony. SANEs provide comprehensive and compassionate forensic medical exams for sexual assault victims. SANEs work closely with PAVSA hospital advocates to ensure a medical response that is trauma-informed and empowers victim/survivors. PAVSA advocates provide support throughout the exam, answer questions about what happens next, and provide resources and options to victims as well as their friends and family. Victims are given options regarding evidence collection, medication, reporting, follow-up services and more.

Federal legislation mandates that regardless of whether or not a victim chooses to make a report to law enforcement, he/she has a right to seek a forensic medical examination following a sexual assault free of charge. In Minnesota, the county that the sexual assault occurred in is responsible for covering these costs. This does not cover the cost of treatment; however PAVSA is available to assist in applying for victim’s reparations.

For more information on the SANE program contact Em Westerlund, SANE Program Coordinator at 218/726-1442 or emwesterlund@pavsa.org

Counseling Program and Support Groups

PAVSA provides several services to help victim/survivors heal from the crisis and trauma associated with sexual violence. All services are free and confidential, including:

Individual Counseling: one on one counseling provided by a licensed counselor.

Support groups including:

  • Adult Women’s Group, a 10-week closed therapeutic support group focused on issues faced by victims of sexual violence and adult survivors of child sexual abuse. This group is offered three times a year.
  • Art Group, a weekly open group utilizing expressive arts activities that assist victim/survivors heal from sexual violence.
  • Yoga Group, a 10-week closed group offered through Firefly Yoga International in collaboration with PAVSA. Yoga practices specifically designed for trauma survivors are taught in safe and relaxing environment by a Firefly Yoga International trained professional.

PAVSA also adds new support groups addressing specific issues on a regular basis. If you are interested in meeting with a counselor or becoming part of a support group, contact the office at 218/726-1442 for scheduling and enrollment information.

Legal Advocacy Program

PAVSA advocates are available to provide support to victims who are navigating the criminal justice system, working with civil attorneys, applying for government aid, working with County Social Services, or any other number of systems-based issues they may be facing. Staff advocates have strong working relationships with professionals from area law enforcement agencies, the County Attorney’s Office, the hospitals, and Social Services, all of which are members of PAVSA’s multi-disciplinary team.

PAVSA’s Zenith Law Center provides these free and confidential services for victim/survivors over the age of 13:

  • Information on Victim Rights
  • Assistance navigating the criminal justice process
  • Accompaniment to court and meetings with systems professionals
  • Assistance with Victim Impact Statements
  • Assistance obtaining notifications re: offender(s)
  • Orders for Protection/Harassment Restraining Orders
  • Safety Planning
  • Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program
  • Resources and referrals to various service providers and community supports
  • Filing of educational institution complaints
  • Assistance with campus hearings
  • Assistance vacating leases or locating housing
  • Assistance filing for Victim Reparations, U-Visa or T-Visa, or VAWA self-petition
  • Referrals, assistance and support in relation to children (custody, child support, family law, divorce)

PAVSA’s legal services are offered through Zenith Law Center, a program of PAVSA. The program is located offsite from the PAVSA office. For more information regarding Legal Advocacy services, contact Meghan Gantz, Systems/Legal Advocacy Coordinator at 218/348-2261 or gantz@pavsa.org

Sex Trafficking Program

PAVSA’s Trafficking Program provides supportive services and case management to victim/survivors of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking including crisis services, support groups and counseling. The Trafficking Program services include:

  • 24 hour crisis response to exploited youth
  • Advocacy and case management
  • Legal/systems advocacy
  • Support groups
  • Outreach groups
  • Youth development training
  • Trafficking emergency fund

Safe Harbor Legislation

PAVSA trafficking outreach and services for youth are offered through the Safe Harbor Legislation and funded through the Minnesota Department of Health. This significant legislation ensures that youth who have been engaged in commercial sexual exploitation or trafficking would no longer be viewed as criminals but rather as victim/survivors. Safe Harbor legislation has made supportive services, shelter and housing available for youth who have been exploited. At PAVSA, Safe Harbor provides the Safe Harbor Regional Navigator and Supportive Services. The Regional Navigator works with seven counties in Northeast Minnesota to connect youth with trauma-informed resources within their communities. Supportive Services provides outreach and support for youth who have been sexually exploited.

Duluth Trafficking Task Force

Minnesota reports on human sex trafficking have demonstrated the need to work against trafficking and prostitution. Some of these reports identified specific groups as particularly affected by trafficking, reporting that Native American girls and women are some of the most vulnerable to being trafficked while having the least access to resources. Duluth, being a small metropolis, an international port city and having a relatively large Native population, has become identified by reports as one of the major hubs for trafficking and prostitution in Minnesota.

Recognizing the need to create a common platform for the community to address the issue of sex trafficking, PAVSA and the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) collaborated on a project to address this issue. In 2010 the Duluth Trafficking Task Force was formed with the goal of reframing the issue of trafficking within the context of violence against women and identifying service needs. The Duluth Trafficking Task Force is a multi-disciplinary group comprised of victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, educators, agencies serving homeless and at-risk youth, community members, and the port authority. The Duluth Trafficking Task Force has worked to develop protocols and policies related to sex trafficking, engage legislators to support Safe Harbor legislation, and build awareness of sex trafficking as a community issue. For information about the Duluth Trafficking Task Force contact Shunu Shrestha, Trafficking Program Coordinator at 218/726-1442 or sshrestha@pavsa.org.

Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Response Team

PAVSA coordinates the Southern St. Louis County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Response Team (SMART) which includes representatives from health care, law enforcement, the legal system, victim services, mental health professionals, educators and other community service organizations. The mission of the SMART is to ensure a victim-centered community response to sexual assault with a culturally-competent and a multi-disciplinary approach. The SMART team works to improve responses and resources for victims and their families, develops protocols that are sensitive to all forms of diversity, and offers training to professionals in our community.

The work of the Southern St. Louis County SMART has been the impetus for several successful initiatives that have received accolades at both the state and national level. Some of SMART’s successes include the formation of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program for adolescent and adult victims of sexual assault, a safety and accountability audit of the systems response to Native women reporting sexual assault, PAVSA’s Systems and Legal Advocacy Program, and the formation of the Duluth Trafficking Task Force.

SMART Member Agencies Include:

PAVSA – Duluth Police Department – St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department – Hermantown Police Department – UMD Police Department – St. Louis County Attorney’s Office –
Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA) – St. Louis County Social Services Initial Intervention Unit – Safe Haven Battered Women’s Shelter – Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP) – University of Minnesota-Duluth – College of St. Scholastica – First Witness Child Advocacy Center

*For more information about the Southern St. Louis County SMART, contact PAVSA at 218/726-1442.

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative or SAKI is a collaboration between PAVSA, the Duluth Police Department, and the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. The purpose of the project is the elimination of the backlog of un-submitted sexual assault kits held by the Duluth Police Department. The project is staffed at the police department by a Site Coordinator, a Victim Advocate, and an Investigator. A designated county prosecutor is assigned to any SAKI cases that are referred for prosecution. A sixteen member Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) representing seven agencies provides oversight. If you are interested in learning more about SAKI, contact Mary Faulkner, Site Coordinator at 218/730-5452.

Download SAKI FAQ

 

Victim-survivors who previously reported a sexual assault to the police or to the hospital can inquire about the status of their case and whether or not their sexual assault evidence kit has been tested on the Betty Skye Line. The Betty Skye Line is a confidential information line available to victim-survivors to learn more about their case without having to connect with Law Enforcement immediately. The Betty Skye Line is available by phone or email at 218-730-5449 or bettyskyeline@pavsa.org