The VOICE Center
Victim Options In the Campus Environment
24-Hour Confidential Support Line (406) 994-7069
The VOICE Center emphasizes empowerment of the survivor and peer-based services provided by staff and trained advocates. VOICE Center Advocates can talk to you, either on the phone or in person, about your relationship and concerns you may have; reporting options; temporary orders of protection; support groups; counseling, and medical resources available to you. They can also accompany or assist survivors in accessing medical, legal, or other services. Services are free & confidential. You may choose to be anonymous if you wish.
Sexual Assault Services at MSU
Support Services and Options In Case of Sexual Assault (Brochure - PDF)
The Montana State University VOICE Center is committed to the belief that all people have the right to live free from violence and the fear of violence. We recognize that sexual and domestic violence are not isolated incidents, but rather are the expression of a pervasive attitude in which violence and control are acted out in a gendered and sexual manner. We believe that sexual violence can best be addressed through social action, education, and advocacy. The VOICE Center is formed to:
- Provide a safe, highly confidential place on campus for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, offering support, advocacy, and resources.
- Break the silence and raise consciousness surrounding sexual and domestic violence. Silence adds to a survivor's shame and delays recovering and healing.
- Help restore personal power and dignity to survivors of sexual and domestic violence by providing choices and decision-making opportunities.
- Identify and reduce the existence of sexual and domestic violence at Montana State University, and provide education and information to all members of the Montana State University community on issues of sexual assault and relationship violence.
- Ensure effective communication between the VOICE Center and other people who are concerned about sexual and domestic violence.
Giving Power Back – VOICE Center’s Empowerment-Based ApproachVOICE Center advocates help restore personal power and dignity to survivors of sexual and domestic violence by providing choices and decision-making opportunities. We help students to know and understand all of their options and can support students throughout the healing process. We firmly believe that survivors of sexual and relationship violence know what is best for them, and we respect their decisions.
The VOICE Center is a peer-based program that provides education and advocacy on issues of sexual and domestic violence in the MSU community. We have two types of volunteers: Advocates and Educators. Following is a description of each type of position.
What is a Peer Advocate?
Victim Advocates are student volunteers who are trained to provide information, crisis intervention and support services to anyone affected by sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking. Services that Peer Advocates provide include: answering the crisis line; meeting with survivors one on one; accompanying survivors to help with reporting, accessing medical, legal, and/or other services; talking with friends and family members of survivors about how to best support their loved one.
What will the Peer Advocate Training involve?
The 32-hour training session will include education in the following areas:
- Theory on gendered and interpersonal violence
- Crisis counseling skills
- Peer Counseling skills
- Relationship Violence/Dating Violence/Domestic Violence
- Sexual Assault/Date Rape/Acquaintance Rape
- Advocacy Skills
- Law Enforcement & Medical Concerns for Survivors
- Intersectionality and oppression
- SafeZone Training
How would I benefit from being a Peer Advocate?
- Actively work with concerned individuals making positive change on the MSU campus.
- Obtain practical experience in crisis intervention and advocacy on issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.
- Gain knowledge on issues of sexual violence, gendered violence, and oppression.
- Opportunity for personal development and growth.
- Earn college credit.
- Earn letters of recommendation.
Requirements to become a Peer Advocate with the VOICE Center:
- Complete the application process (which includes a written application and an interview).
- Attend 32-hour training session.
- Commit to staffing one, 2-hour shift per week.
- Commit to working with the VOICE program for a minimum of one year.
- Have a non-judgmental and non-victim blaming approach to sexual and relationship violence.
What is a Peer Educator?
Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) functions as the outreach component of the VOICE Center.
Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) is a club that focuses on and celebrates healthy relationships on the MSU campus and within the community. SASA members are students from a diverse range of backgrounds who stand together to speak out against all forms of violence. SASA believes education is a crucial part of prevention and actively seeks to increase awareness about stalking, relationship violence, and sexual assault. SASA's goal is to 1) eliminate these concerns from our community, and 2) create a caring and understanding environment for survivors. In accordance with this, SASA sponsors and hosts campus and community events including dances, speak outs, marches, art displays, and educational presentations. SASA members use their voices to create a positive impact in everyday conversations and at campus and community events. SASA stands up for its beliefs on individual as well as societal levels. Members are activists who have non-violent worldviews and stand strong in the face of adversity. For more information, visit:http://sasamsu.webs.com/.
SASA members and Peer Educators make presentations on sexual assault and domestic violence awareness, safety, and resources in the dorms, Greek houses, and to student groups. Formats include skits, video, and group discussion.
How Would I Benefit From Being a Peer Educator?
Peer Educators work actively with concerned individuals to make positive change on the MSU-Bozeman campus.
- Gain volunteer experience
- Gain knowledge on issues of sexual and domestic violence
- Practice group facilitation skills
- Earn letters of recommendation
Requirements to become a Peer Educator with the VOICE Program:
- Attend training sessions
- Attend SASA meetings
- Willingness and desire to facilitate open discussion on sexual and domestic violence
- One year commitment to the program
- Non-judgmental and non-victim blaming approach to sexual and domestic violence
On Campus Resources
The VOICE Center, 24-Hour Confidential Support Line 994-7069
Provides free and confidential services and information for all people affected by sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, including friends and family of survivors. Advocates are available 24-hours a day to provide information and discuss different options and resources that may be available to you. Advocates can assist with reporting, referrals, academic concerns, protective orders, and medical advocacy. You may choose to be anonymous in all of your contacts with the VOICE Center.
Advocates are available 24-hours a day through our 24-Hour Confidential Support Line (406) 994-7069 (if you call the Support Line after-hours, you will have the option to press “1” to be immediately connected with an advocate, or to leave us a confidential voicemail).
VOICE Center Walk-In hours are from 10-4 during the regular academic semester. Other appointments can be made as needed.
The VOICE Center is located in 370 Strand Union Building (SUB) on the third floor above Leigh Lounge and Avogadros Number.
The VOICE Center provides services for friends, partners, and family members of survivors. We welcome all people regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, and/or past experience.
General Office line, 994-7662
VOICE Center Coordinator, Alanna Sherstad, 994-7142
Outreach/Education Coordinators, 994-5682
MSU Police - 994-2121
Responds to crimes that occur on MSU property. This is a 24-hour number.
MSU Student Health Service - 994-2311
Provides free medical services for eligible MSU students. Student Health Service is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
MSU Counseling & Psychological Services - 994-4531
Provides free counseling for eligible MSU students. Open Monday through Friday 8-5 (Summer hours limited).
Associated Students Legal Services - 994-2935
Can provide legal representation, at minimum charge, to MSU students. Legal Services cannot represent students in criminal cases.
MSU Dean of Students - 994-2826
Can assist students with academic and financial aid issues that occur as the result of an incident of sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence. The Dean of Students adjudicates violations of the Student Conduct Code. VOICE Center advocates can help you through this process if you are considering this option.
MSU Director of Human Resources & Affirmative Action (Title IX Coordinator) - 994-5326
Any student or visitor with questions or concerns about sex discrimination or sexual harassment or who has been the victim of sex discrimination or sexual harassment may contact the Title IX Coordinator for assistance.
To report a crime anonymously on the MSU campus, e-mail the Silent Witness Program: email@example.com.
If you have questions, a VOICE Advocate can answer questions about this option.
Off Campus Resources
Bozeman Police - 911 or 582-2000
Responds to crimes that occur in Bozeman.
Gallatin County Sheriff - 911 or 582-2100
Responds to crimes that occur in Gallatin County but outside Bozeman city limits.
Help Center and Sexual Assault Counseling Center - 586-3333 (24-Hour Line)
The Help Center provides a 24-hour confidential community crisis line, to talk about sexual assault, suicide, concerns about a friend, and more. Housed in the Help Center, the Sexual Assault Counseling Center provides 24-hour crisis counseling, outreach, legal, personal, medical advocacy and short/long term trauma recovery counseling for survivors of sexual assault and their significant others. Services are free and confidential.
HAVEN - 586-4111 (24-hour Line)
HAVEN provides a variety of services, including a 24-hour crisis line and emergency shelter. Professional staff and trained volunteers assist victims of domestic violence in meeting immediate and long-term needs, as well as provide information, referrals, crisis intervention, and support. Services are free and confidential.
HAVEN’s Legal Advocacy Office - 582-2038
The Legal Advocate offers services at no cost to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The assistance can include applications for orders of protection and other civil court procedures.
Gallatin County Victim Assistance Program - 582-2075 or 582-2076
The Victim Assistance Program assists victims of violent crime with the criminal justice process in the City of Bozeman and Gallatin County. Services include crisis counseling, criminal justice support and advocacy, assistance with filing for crime victim compensation, and information and referral to community services.
Anonymity &Confidentiality at the VOICE CenterYour communications with the VOICE Center are protected by state law and are confidential. No one outside of the VOICE Center will have access to information about your communications with the VOICE Center without your consent, except as described in "Exceptions to Confidentiality." Within the VOICE Center, only professional staff, supervisors, graduate interns, and peer Advocates have access to your records, and onlyon a need-to-know basis. Law enforcement, school administration or faculty, Student Health Service staff not affiliated with the VOICE Center, or family members will not be contacted by the VOICE Center unless you request us to do so. In addition, you have the option of being anonymous in your interactions with the VOICE Center if you prefer.
Does the VOICE Center Keep Records?
Whether you choose to be anonymous or to give your name, the VOICE Center does document all client interactions. We keep minimal records for gathering statistics, to monitor the quality of our services, and to provide documentation to clients of their interactions with the VOICE Center when requested.
Are There Exceptions to Confidentiality?
Exceptions to confidentiality include legally required reports in cases of child or elder abuse and threats of imminent harm to self or others, in circumstances detailed in Montana's child/elder abuse reporting laws, mental health law, and duty to warn law. Because the details of these statutes are complex, advocates and staff are required to discuss such client disclosures immediately with VOICE Center supervisors. If specific legal conditions are found to have been met, notification of authorities is mandated by state law.
An additional exception to confidentiality is if the VOICE Center receives a subpoena or court order to disclose confidential information. In such circumstances, the University has stated its commitment to protect VOICE Center records and is prepared to oppose any subpoenas for which the VOICE Center does not have the client's authorization for release of the information. Montana law presently offers substantial protection from disclosure of counseling records without the client's consent in instances of sexual assault, even in court cases. However, it is possible that, despite the University's efforts, a court could mandate the release of the records. If all efforts to protect the records fail, the VOICE Center would comply with the order at that point.
What's the Difference Between Anonymity & Confidentiality?
To be anonymous at the VOICE Center means that you do not give your name to the VOICE Center Advocate with whom you speak, (or you use a pseudonym) and your name will not appear on any records of your interactions with the VOICE Center. Confidentiality means that you inform the Advocate of your name, and all records of your interactions with the VOICE Center will have your name on them. It is possible to switch from anonymous to confidential records; however, it is not possible to switch from being confidential to being anonymous.
Which Option Should I Choose?
There are many things to consider in making the decision whether to be anonymous or confidential at the VOICE Center. Such considerations may include the potential for you to be involved in court cases, your desire for services other than peer counseling, and any needs for documentation of your interaction with the VOICE Center.
Either option may have potential advantages and disadvantages for you. If you choose to be anonymous, it is unlikely that the records of your interactions with the VOICE Center would be appealed if you were involved in legal proceedings. However, if you need a copy of records for some reason, it is virtually impossible for the VOICE Center to know which of the anonymous records we have are about you.
If you are anonymous, the services available to you through the VOICE Center are limited to peer counseling and information. All other services (advocacy within legal and university system, letters to professors or others) would require that the VOICE Center know your name. However, if you are anonymous at the VOICE Center, you can always decide to give your name later if you wish to receive these other services.
If you choose to give your name, your records will remain strictly confidential, all the VOICE Center services are available to you, and the records of your interactions with the VOICE Center will be retrievable if you ever need a copy for yourself or others for documentation. However, because the records are retrievable, they may become subject to a court order to release them if you are involved in a court case. (See "Exceptions to Confidentiality).An advocate can always assist you in talking through these different options and answering any questions you have so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.
Sexual Assault Services at MSUStudents at Montana State University have the right to live and learn in an academic environment that is free from all forms of sexual violence and misconduct. At MSU, we aim to reduce the occurrence of sexual assault on campus by creating a community intolerant of sexual violence. We strive to empower students to disclose sexual assault and to have access to medical, mental health, and advocacy services.
MSU’s sexual assault policy applies to students, staff, faculty, and other academic personnel. For complete information about MSU’s sexual assault policy, visit:http://www2.montana.edu/policy/security_report/sexual_assault.html
MSU’s sexual assault and sexual misconduct policies help to facilitate an academic and living environment that is free of sexual violence and harassment while complying with the provisions outlined in the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. For more information on Title IX and MSU’s sexual misconduct policy, visit:http://www.montana.edu/hraa/TitleIX.html
What is sexual harassment and sexual assault?
- Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion.
- A violation of a person’s physical & emotional well being.
- A crime prosecutable under Montana law.
- An act of power and control.
- Sexual assault is NOT an expression of love, passion, or sexual desire.
- Sexual assault is NOT your fault
If you have experienced a sexual assault, you may be faced with many decisions to make about your own physical and emotional well-being as well as filing reports through the University or law enforcement. The following information will provide a good overview, but it may be helpful to speak with an advocate or counselor about your options.
What to Do if it Happens to You
If the assault just occurred:
- Get to a safe place as soon as possible
- Try to preserve all the physical evidence (it may be possible to collect evidence of the offense up to 5 days following the assault)
- Don’t shower or bathe
- Don’t brush your teeth
- Save the clothing that you were wearing in a brown paper bag
- If the assault took place in your home, do not rearrange and/or clean up anything
- Seek Support
- Talk with someone you trust to get immediate support (friend, family, RA, advocate)
- MSU VOICE Center has a 24-Hour Confidential Support Line 406-994-7069. Trained advocates are available to talk with you about all your options & provide support.
- Seek medical attention
- The Bozeman Deaconess ER has trained nurses who can meet with you, collect evidence through a forensic rape exam, check for injuries, provide emergency contraception, and limited STD preventative medication.
- Decide whether to report the crime
- Under Montana’s FREPP (Forensic Rape Examination Payment Program), you can have evidence collected and stored without reporting the crime. You can have up to one year to decide if you want to report the crime and use the evidence to press charges.
- MSU Police Department has trained and experienced investigators who are members of the Gallatin County Sexual Assault Response Team. They can also speak with you about your options.
Especially in the first 72 hours, medical concerns like pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI) or injuries may be important to address. Even after 72 hours have passed, treatment is available and may put your mind at ease. There is a difference between getting treatment from a medical professional and having medical evidence collected for a possible investigation.
Evidence collection, often referred to as the “rape kit,” is done at the Bozeman Deaconess Emergency Room by a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. You can learn more about the forensic rape exam by calling the 24-Hour VOICE Center Support Line at 406-994-7069 or the Bozeman Help Center at 406-586-3333. Advocates are available to meet you at the hospital to offer additional support and information. Through Montana’s Forensic Rape Examination Payment Program (FREPP), you can have evidence collected even if you do not know whether or not you want to report the crime to the police. If you think there is a possibility that you will decide to report the assault to the police, it is best to get the forensic exam done as soon as possible. The exam itself will be paid for and you have up to a year to decide if you want to report and use the evidence.
If you have injuries related to an assault, and want treatment, but no evidence collection, please go to the doctor. Keep in mind that if you are under the age of 18 or have significant physical injury, doctors may be required to report the assault to the police. If you want, you can ask about reporting requirements before receiving treatment.
If you do not feel you want or need an emergency room visit or evidence collection,
but are concerned about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, you have several
MSU Student Health Services 406-994-2311,
Bridger Care 406-587-0681,
As a student at MSU, you have several options regarding reporting the crime to authorities. No matter what you choose, the VOICE Center is here to support you.
- Pursue campus disciplinary charges through the Dean of Students Office if the alleged perpetrator is a student
- Report the sexual assault/offense and pursue criminal charges through MSU Police Department or local law enforcement
- Pursue both university and criminal charges if the alleged perpetrator is a student
- Report the assault but choose not to pursue charges through MSU Police Department
- Report anonymously through the Silent Witness Program or MSU VOICE Center
- Do none of the above (the survivor is still encouraged to seek support)
University Judicial Procedures
If you were assaulted by a student, you can report the incident to the Dean of Students Office, 406-994-2826, which adjudicates the Student Code of Conduct. The Dean of Students Office is responsible for ensuring that students comply with university policy related to student conduct by promoting student learning and development. Students may file a report with the Dean Of Students office if they have been the victim of an action that violates the Student Conduct Code.
The Dean of Students, with oversight by the Title IX Coordinator (Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action) will investigate the report and either propose sanctions or conduct a hearing where charges of misconduct are adjudicated by the University Student Conduct Board (comprised of faculty, staff and students). When allegations of sexual violence or misconduct are brought to the Dean of Students office, and a respondent is found to have violated the Code of Conduct, serious sanctions will be issued to help ensure that such actions are never repeated. Depending on the case, the Dean of Students may impose sanctions that include but are not limited to, no-contact orders, educational mandates, suspensions or dismissals from the University.
* MSU protects victims of sexual assault by not charging them with alcohol or drug violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The MSU Judicial process in the Dean of Students office is independent of the Criminal Justice process. Victims of sexual assault can choose to pursue charges in either system, both systems, or to not bring charges against their perpetrator. Advocates can help you assess this option as well. If you would like more information on the Student Code of Conduct and judicial process, you can visithttp://www2.montana.edu/policy/student_conduct/cg600.htmlor contact the VOICE Center at 994-7069.
If you were assaulted by a faculty or staff member, you can report to the Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action who investigates infractions of University policy and violations of Title IX and the University’s sexual assault policy. Any student or visitor with questions or concerns about sex discrimination or sexual harassment or who believes that he or she has been the victim of sex discrimination or sexual harassment may contact the Title IX Coordinator for assistance.
MSU encourages reporting to the police at the earliest possibility; but even if a victim chooses not to report immediately, a report can be made later. Reporting an assault is not the same as pressing charges and does not mean you have to go to court. At the MSU Police Department, you can meet a detective or officer to make a report without immediately triggering a full scale investigation. You can learn more about the process, meet the people involved, and make an informed decision.
* MSU Police Department protects victims of sexual assault by not charging them with alcohol or drug charges.
If you make the decision to press charges, an investigation will occur and the City or County Attorney’s Office will review the case and determine whether or not to file charges in the case. Investigations can take several weeks and/or months to complete before a decision may be made about whether or not to file charges. If charges are filed, a victim-advocate from the Attorney’s Office will keep you notified of the case and assist you through the process.
For more information about reporting a sexual assault to the police, visithttp://www.montana.edu/police/crime%20reporting.shtml
You can also file an anonymous report about the crime (or any crime you witnessed) through MSU’s Silent Witness Program by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visithttp://www.montana.edu/police/silent.shtml for more information.
If the assault happened a while ago, or if you are not sure you are ready to go right to the Dean of Students Office or University Police, you can call the VOICE Center’s 24-Hour Confidential Support Line at 406-994-7069 and talk through the issues. If you would like to report, but are apprehensive about talking with the police or the Dean of Students, a VOICE Center advocate can help schedule an interview in a comfortable setting.
If you are dealing with an unwanted sexual experience, it may be useful to talk with someone who is knowledgeable about the issue. People in this situation may feel a wide variety of emotions such as being confused, outraged, frightened, overwhelmed, scared, sad, anxious, and depressed.
Being assaulted can create a host of practical and emotional consequences. While you may want to talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, there are also confidential campus resources available including the MSU Counseling & Psychological services, VOICE Center, and MSU Police Department. MSU’s Counseling & Psychological Services provides free and highly confidential counseling to students which can be an extremely important part of the healing process.
Many survivors seek out a supervisor, professor, or individual in a position of trust to help provide support. Be advised: some of these people may have an obligation to report.
When you seek help from professionals, first ask what level of confidentiality they can provide, who they are required to tell if you were to disclose information regarding an incident. That way, you can make an informed decision.
Some things you might discuss:
- Figuring out what you feel and think about what is going on.
- Getting information that will help you assess the situation, and figure out what you want to do.
- Talking about how to manage your academics or work given your situation.
- Getting help with changing your classes or working with your professors.
- Talking about making a safety plan, if needed.
- Getting medical treatment if you have injuries or are worried about your health.
- Changing where you live to get some space, or safety.
- Reporting to the police, the MSU Dean of Students, or the Title IX Coordinator if appropriate.
MSU Counseling & Psychological Services (Confidential & Free Counseling) 994-4531