What Does it Take to be an RVA Volunteer? Commitment. Resolve. Compassion.

Rape Victim Advocates is an Illinois not-for-profit that works to affect positive social change for sexual assault survivors through direct support service and by raising awareness through education and advocacy. And it’s the RVA volunteers who make all the difference in our work to end sexual violence and help every victim become a survivor. Join us in our stand against sexual violence.

Volunteer Opportunities with RVA

Thanks to more than 200 volunteer medical advocates, we are able to ensure that victims who receive emergency treatment at our 14 partner hospitals are never alone. Beyond advocacy, RVA volunteers do so much more—from collecting and sorting donated clothing to facilitating education and training programs to standing in solidarity with survivors at our annual Standing Silent Witness protest each April. What opportunity is right for you? Contact us to learn more, call 312-443-9603, or apply online today.

Medical Advocates

RVA volunteer advocates are here exclusively to serve the needs of survivors—the sole person on whom survivors can count to protect their rights and ensure consistent, specialized, and humane treatment in the face of such unimaginable trauma.

Roles & Responsibilities

Our advocates are on-call to provide crisis counseling in Chicago’s hospitals. They are the people who answer the page from the hospital emergency room—the caring strangers who arrive to hold an unsteady hand, decipher medical and legal terminology and filter through countless forms and paperwork, all to put victims on the pathway to becoming fully healed. Advocates are required to:

  • Commit to a full year of service
  • Become certified Rape Crisis Counselor (60 hours of training required)
  • Be on-call to provide crisis counseling for at least two 12-hour shifts per month

With the survivor’s permission, advocates are expected to remain with the survivor throughout the medical examination and evidence collection. Crisis intervention counseling will also be provided for the survivor and significant others. When appropriate, advocates will accompany the survivor to the police station to file a report or for interviews by police or prosecutors. If a case is taken to court, an RVA staff advocate can provide accompaniment and much more for the duration of the legal process, as needed.

Advocates must be 18 years of age or older.

How will I know if this is the right time for me to volunteer at Rape Victim Advocates?
  • It has been at least 1 year since you became personally connected to the issue of sexual violence.
  • It has been at least 1 year since you have stopped receiving services from Rape Victim Advocates or another rape crisis center.
  • If you identify as a survivor, you have processed your experience through counseling or other method and you do not feel a sense of crisis in your daily life.
  • If you identify as a survivor, you can speak to minimally three prior steps that you have taken on the path to healing from the trauma that you’ve experienced.
  • You are not currently struggling with substance use or self-harm.
  • You have a strong support system in place and can identify those whom would be supportive of your volunteer experience with a rape crisis center.
  • You have minimally 24 hours available each month to share with RVA for 12 months.
  • You feel 100% ready to become an advocate.

Educators

While our hallmark continues to be the 24-hour crisis counseling, we help to effect positive social change in schools, businesses, and the community at large through our education and training programs.

Roles & Responsibilities

RVA provides public education to improve the treatment of sexual assault survivors and to effect positive change in policies and public attitudes toward sexual assault. Educators speak at schools, rallies, help train new medical advocates and others working directly with survivors, including medical and law enforcement personnel. RVA educators are expected to:

  • Complete the 60 hour medical advocacy training
  • Complete additional training, as needed
  • Train new advocates or professionals
  • Give public talks on sexual violence

RVA’s education and training programs reach hundreds of adult community members and tens of thousands of children and youth throughout Chicago annually.

Educators must be 18 years of age or older.

Short-Term Opportunities: Special Events & Development

Standing Silent Witness is RVA’s signature event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Volunteers wear t-shirts bearing the stories of sexual assault. For this, and other events like our annual fundraiser, Soirée in the City, we look for short-term volunteers to help with planning and general fundraising activities.

We also have need speakers for our community outreach programs. These volunteers represent RVA at public events, like the Vagina Monologue productions, Roller Derby charity nights, and school-based affairs. Volunteers are responsible for ensuring RVA material is available at the event, and that unused material is returned to RVA offices. Some events require “safe people” or crisis counselors as well.

Board and Committees

Volunteers and members of the community are welcome to serve on one of many different committees which help meet current needs and determine the future of our organization. There is an application process to become a member of our board.

The Board of Directors is responsible for

  • Ensuring RVA’s programs and services are consistent with its mission and purpose.
  • Providing proper financial oversight. The board assists in developing RVA’s annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.
  • Ensuring adequate resources, including fundraising, for RVA to fulfill its mission.
  • Ensuring legal and ethical integrity and maintaining accountability. The board is ultimately responsible for ensuring adherence to legal standards and ethical norms.
  • Ensuring effective organizational planning. The board actively participates in an overall planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the plan’s goals.
  • Recruiting and orienting new board members and assessing board performance.
  • Enhancing RVA’s public standing. The board clearly articulates the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community.
  • Supporting the Executive Director and assessing her or his performance. The board ensures that the ED has the moral and professional support he or she needs to further the goals of RVA.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join an organization that makes a real impact on the lives of sexual assault survivors, their families and our communities. There is an application process to become a member of our board. To learn more about serving on RVA’s Board of Directors, please contact Sarah Layden, Interim Executive Director, at (312) 443-9603 or via email.

Become a Volunteer Today!

Ready to join our cause and help make a difference?

Apply Online

Upcoming Volunteer Training Dates & Deadlines

Spring 2017 Application Deadline: April 3rd

Orientation Session (by invitation only): April 10th, 11th, or 13th, 5:30pm – 9:30pm

Training Dates: April 24th – June 5th
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 5:30pm – 9:30pm
*Training will not be held on the following days: 5/16, 5/29, and 6/1.*

Click here for 2017 volunteer training dates

“Survivors of sexual assault who were assisted by rape crisis center advocates received more medical and legal services, and were less distressed by their interactions with law enforcement and medical personnel.”

Rape Survivors’ Experiences With the Legal and Medical Systems, 2006