COMPETENCY: Support Within Reach (SWR) staff and volunteers must complete the state mandated 40-hour sexual assault advocate training in order to be certified in the field of sexual assault and to work under the supervision of SWR.
PERSONHOOD: You have the right to your own beliefs, ideas, and values and to freely express your fears, feelings, and experiences.
DIGNITY: You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to allow people to help you without feeling guilty, unworthy, or dependent. You have the right to be respected for the uniqueness of your religious faith, social philosophy, and cultural background.
CHOICE: You have the right to disagree with the advocate and to express concern openly about any part of SWR’s services, verbally or in writing.
FEES: All support and advocacy services provided by SWR to victims of sexual violence are free of charge. In some cases, SWR may refer you to other resources in the community for additional assistance. Those resources may charge a fee for their services.
CONFIDENTIALITY: SWR staff and volunteers are required by law to keep all information about you confidential unless you give written permission to tell someone else, with the exception of laws which mandate the reporting of child abuse, if you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, or if a crime is committed against program staff/volunteers or their property. If you are a minor, SWR will not share any information with your parent/guardian unless you allow us to by a written release of information.
DISCRIMINATION: You have the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, or other unlawful category while receiving support and advocacy services from SWR. You have the right to change advocates if you feel you are not connecting or getting your needs met. Contact the office and ask for another advocate, or your current advocate can facilitate the change with you. We want your healing journey to be successful and in order for that to happen, you need to be comfortable with your advocate.
PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES: SWR staff and volunteers will honor personal and professional boundaries with you. It is not appropriate for SWR staff/volunteers to become your friend, to spend a lot of time telling you about their personal problems or feelings, or to suggest any mutual activity outside of the professional working relationship.
Staff and volunteers will not touch or hug you unless you ask. They should not, under any circumstances, be involved with you in any sexual manner. This includes sexual intercourse, kissing, touching breasts or genitals by either you or the advocate. Staff or volunteers should not date you or be in any way romantically involved with you, or any member of your immediate family. Staff and volunteers should not suggest being sexual with you or verbally demean you in any way.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: We understand that you may feel uncomfortable working with an advocate who is a friend, relative, or otherwise closely associated. SWR will work diligently to avoid issues involving conflict of interest and will make every attempt to provide you with an advocate with whom you feel comfortable. In some situations this may include referring you to another advocacy agency within or outside of our service area.
DATA PRIVACY & ACCESS TO RECORDS: SWR maintains information about clients who receive services. Most of this information or data is protected by Minnesota State Law and is classified as private. Under the provision of the Minnesota Data Privacy Act, you have the right to:
- Expect that all information SWR receives from you will remain private and will be used only by appropriate staff members.
- Have access to all information pertaining to you in your file and to be told what it means.
- Challenge the accuracy or completeness of data maintained.
- Refuse to give information requested by staff and be told how this may affect services for you.
- Expect that we will ask your written permission to share information about you with anyone, except under certain circumstances as the law allows as explained above under your confidentiality rights.
- Be told the purpose of collecting data from you and its intended use.
COMPLAINT PROCEDURE: If you feel that any of the rights listed here were violated in any way you may take the following steps:
- You may confront or tell the individual with whom you have a complaint how you feel about the way you have been treated.
- If you are not satisfied with the response or feel that you cannot speak directly with that person, you can request a meeting with the Executive Director. The Executive Director may ask or assist you in putting your complaint into writing. You or the Executive Director may request a meeting with all participants involved.
- If you feel that the outcome of this meeting is unsatisfactory, you may ask the Executive Director to send a written copy of your complaint to the SWR Board of Directors Grievance Committee.
- In addition, if you feel that your rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the Minnesota Crime Victim Justice Unit by calling 1-800-247-0390 – extension 3.
- If the nature of your grievance or complaint is an illegal behavior such as sexual exploitation, SWR sincerely encourages you to report any inappropriate physical or verbal sexual conduct directed toward you to the Executive Director, the Chair of the Board of Directors, and/or law enforcement. If you are sexually exploited or the recipient of any inappropriate physical or verbal sexual conduct by an advocate of SWR, you have the right to be assisted in securing services from another advocate in this agency or services from another agency.