MiddSafe advocates are Middlebury College students, faculty, and staff committed to providing a safe and confidential resource for our peers in need of support and information around sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, and other personal violations. Our goal is to exist as a non-judgmental, compassionate, and effective system for individuals in emergency and non-crisis situations. We provide a menu of options to guide students towards medical, legal, and emotional resources on local, state, and national levels. We can help you take steps to understanding what is available to you and to identifying what you need. No matter where you are in the process of dealing with your experience, we are here to listen.
All of our advocates are available for several aspects of Middlebury College community support:
- Hotline operated by volunteer student advocates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, excluding undergraduate academic breaks.
- Faculty and staff advocates available during their regular office hours to serve in their confidential advocate capacity.
- All advocates can provide information to individuals about on- and off-campus services to offer support and advocacy following an act of sexual or domestic violence. Some examples include appointments at Parton Health and Wellness Center or Porter hospital, meetings with deans, professors, Public Safety, the Judicial Affairs Officer, and making contact with Counseling Services of Addison County or Middlebury Police Department.
- All advocates have received training to support individuals engaged in the campus judicial process, should someone choose an advocate as their designated support person.
What happens if I mention self-harm or suicidal thoughts on your hotline?
MiddSafe will always prioritize safety, and so if information discussed within the program is deemed indicative of immediate danger and therefore beyond our limits of confidentiality, the advocate is compelled to notify the appropriate professional. Please see our “What is Confidentiality?” page for more information. If you are seeking a confidential and anonymous resource around self-harm or suicide, some excellent resources include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, The Trevor Project, the National Hopeline, and many more.
If my partner, parent, or anyone else calls to ask if I used your services, what do you tell them?
Since we cannot confirm or deny any contact with a specific person, or in broad terms, no one outside of the program will be informed of your call or the details of your communication with us.
What if I want to talk to someone face-to-face?
You can call the hotline and arrange to meet up with an advocate in a safe and confidential space. On-call advocates always work in pairs to maximize safety and support for the community. You should also feel free to approach any advocate in person, whether or not they are staffing the hotline at the time.
What happens if I know the advocate who answers the phone?
You have a variety of options to move forward if you recognize the name or voice of an advocate on the hotline. If knowing the advocate is something you find helpful or positive, you can certainly speak with them on the hotline or in person, and confidentiality will still apply. If you do not want to talk to the person you have recognized, you can request to speak with the advocate who is providing back-up support for that shift. On-call advocates always work in pairs to maximize safety and support for the community. In this situation, we appreciate your patience as the advocates transfer the phone. If you find that you are not comfortable speaking with a peer, there are faculty and staff members who are trained members of MiddSafe. They do not have shifts on the hotline, but are available in their office to provide confidential support to our community. Additionally, our advocates can direct you to other campus or community resources.
Does the time when I call determine the advocate with whom I will speak?
MiddSafe volunteers take shifts staffing the hotline, ensuring that someone is always available to talk. If you would like to speak to one person in particular, we encourage you to call the hotline anyway. The advocate on call would be happy to talk about options for support, including connecting you with a particular advocate if possible.
When is the best time to call the hotline?
The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the academic year (September-May) when classes are in session, excluding College breaks and holidays (such as Thanksgiving or October Break). An advocate will have the hotline phone with them at all times. We appreciate your patience if an advocate must take a few moments to get to a quiet, private environment to begin your conversation. In the rare case that your call is not answered, please call back! If you call the hotline during breaks, there will be a message that will direct you to the WomenSafe hotline and other resources.
Can I call the hotline if I am worried I have assaulted someone?
The realization that you may have participated in sexual violence can bring up a wide range of thoughts and emotions. The best resource for addressing the needs of someone who has such worries is Counseling at Parton Center for Health and Wellness. A trained counselor can help you to sort through your experience and provide support and information. You may also find it helpful to review campus and local policies that offer official definitions of sexual assault. See Relevant policies and laws for more information.
What if I’m not sure I was assaulted?
MiddSafe services are available for anyone who feels they need assistance, support, and advocacy, whether or not the experience qualifies as a “sexual assault” or “personal violation” as defined by themselves, the College, or the state.
How is MiddSafe different from volunteers at WomenSafe or counselors in Parton?
Choosing a place or person for support is an extremely personal choice. MiddSafe can provide information about all of these options (and more). Support is not one size fits all, and this list does not represent a ranking or hierarchy.
MiddSafe volunteers are Middlebury College students, faculty, and staff who have been trained as crisis workers under Vermont state law. We are here to listen, support, and provide the campus community with information on both campus and community resources, college policy, state law.
WomenSafe is a community-based organization in Addison County staffed by professionals and volunteers. They have a broad range of services and programs, including: 24 hour hotline, advocacy services, transitional housing assistance, support groups, supervised visitation and monitored exchanges, and childcare. They offer LanguageLine interpretation services for hotline callers with limited English proficiency in more than 170 languages. Their services are free and confidential, regardless of citizenship status. As a community organization WomenSafe is not bound to some of the laws and policies that govern a college campus. For more information, see their website.
Staff at Parton Center for Health and Wellness and the College Chaplains are employees of Middlebury College who, by the nature of their professional licensure(s) and/or position on campus, hold confidentiality. These professionals are trained to support and respond to students who may be affected by any kind of trauma or troubling experience. Similar to MiddSafe volunteers, they are not campus security authorities, which means they do not have reporting responsibility under the Clery Act. They do, however, have a responsibility to share information with the College when there is a perceived threat to the health and safety of an individual, the College, or property.
Can I call the hotline to receive support because I have a friend or loved one who is in need, even if I have not been involved myself?
Anyone who is in any way affected by sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence is welcome and encouraged to contact the hotline if you feel the need.
Can I remain completely anonymous?
Yes. We will give you an opportunity to give us your contact information, but you do not have to. You are welcome to give us your name, use an alias, or not give us any name at all. Sometimes providing a name or contact information can be really helpful (e.g. in order to facilitate getting someone some follow up information that they’ve requested or finding a time to meet in person). The only instances in which the limits of confidentiality require us to ask for your information include if there is a clear and substantial risk of physical danger to self, others, or the community, or if there is a requirement by law. More information on these exceptions can be found in the “What is Confidentiality?” section.
Since these questions cover a lot of information, we encourage you to call us, visit our office hours, or go to Barbara McCall, the Director of Health and Wellness if you are uncertain or confused about what we do or how you can benefit from our services.