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“I’m just there for them”

 

Only 30 hours removed from spending an entire night with a sexual assault victim at an area hospital, the Women's Center's Alexa Bond reflected on her first six months as a Medical/Legal Advocate for Rape Crisis Services in our Marion office. 

“I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be” Bond said, adding that those first six months have been “very rewarding.”

After working in the Domestic Violence Division of Williamson County State’s Attorney’s office for 11 months, Bond had become well acquainted with the frequency of domestic violence incidents in Williamson County and daily worked on cases in which an abused person was seeking an Order of Protection to keep them safe from an abuser.

          “I had to know a lot about a lot,” she said, and during her year at the States Attorney’s office she did Order of Protection paperwork five days a week.“People are lined up at the courthouse before            7:30 most mornings,” she said, “and there are times when we can’t complete the 30-page OP application in time for a hearing that same day.”

          She felt comfortable in that position, but as her one-year anniversary approached, “I realized it was time for a change. I wanted to see people as a whole,” Bond said, “and be able to help them                when they were in the middle of a crisis.”

          While Bond was at the State’s Attorney office, Sarah Settles, our Legal Advocate in Marion, worked with her on Domestic Violence cases and was impressed with her enough to recruit her when                an opening occurred as Rape Crises Advocate.

          “She’s dedicated and a fast learner,” Settles said of Bond, “and has the biggest heart I’ve ever met in anyone.”

          A native of Marion and graduate of Marion High School, Bond attended the University of Alabama, initially to study Business. She switched her major to Criminal Justice, and although her aspiration            to become a police officer or US Marshall had waned long before graduation, she took the undergraduate opportunity to research topics such as Women in Prison and Cycles of Domestic Violence.

          “I was too compassionate to be a police officer,” she said.

          She still finds meeting sexual assault victims at a hospital immediately after their rape to be challenging.

“It is heavy stuff to hear and be a part of,” Bond said, “but I now realize that the best thing I can do is listen.” She described the process of the rape survivor meeting with nurses, doctors and police officers immediately after the assault – often for a length of time similar to the five hours she had spent a day earlier – and that the process is often very uncomfortable and invasive. “Everyone else has their tasks to do,” she said, “but I’m just there for them.”

Her Criminal Justice degree sometimes getting the better of her, Bond is occasionally taken aback when a rape survivor doesn’t talk with police or have an evidence collection kit collected.

“When I think about it from their perspective,” Bond said, “I acknowledge that in order to pursue justice, the survivor will have to tell their story and relive the experience multiple times.” She also noted a greater reluctance for some sexual assault survivors to even go to the hospital.

“In the more rural towns in our area, a sexual assault survivor doesn’t want to go to the ER because their mom’s friend might work there.” 

She is encouraged and inspired by survivors who commit to seeking justice. Bond said “I have clients who tell me ‘I don’t care how long it will take; I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.’ They don’t want justice just for themselves as much as for (a perpetrator’s) past and possible future victims.”

She is often frustrated with the delays involved in trying someone accused of sexual assault. “So much time and money seem to be wasted as the process draws out,” Bond said, “as the defense attorney tries to drag things out as long as possible.”

Bond is excited when she says “I have several cases about to go to trial that have gone fairly fast,” but admits that “fast” is when the assaults took place slightly less than two years ago.

She is cautious when speaking with her clients, both initially and as the legal process wears on. “I want to be honest, but don’t want to take their hope away,” she said.

“They just want to get back to normal, and I just want to help.”