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The Influence of Student Peer Advocate Training

December, 2018
  • The first graduating class of Student Peer Domestic Violence Advocates
    The first graduating class of Student Peer Domestic Violence Advocates

At Quinsigamond Community College taking care of the whole student is the way the college is working to ensure student success for all. To that end, QCC has developed a Student Peer Advocate Training for domestic violence, designed to connect the victims of domestic violence here at QCC to both campus and community resources to assist them in gaining perspective and heathy responses to this issue. 

“We know students are experiencing intimate partner violence, and that there are times when they discuss those issues with their fellow students here at QCC,” said Dean of Compliance Liz Woods.

According to Associate Professor of Human Services Brenda Safford, students are referred by faculty in Healthcare, Criminal justice, Human Services, Psychology and the biannual training is open to all interested students. The next training session will be held in the spring.

Nine students participated in the training, which was offered this fall from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for four Saturdays. After the completion of all four training sessions, each student received a certificate from the YWCA of Central MA. 

“I volunteered to ‘add tools to my toolbox’ and to meet and learn from classmates. The behind the scenes systems set up to help those living with domestic violence was informative” said QCC student Charles Ketter, who is majoring in Human Services.

QCC Human Services student Darcie Peters said her own experience with domestic violence was the impetus for becoming a student peer advocate.

“I wish someone could’ve been aware of what I was going through. Then maybe it wouldn’t have lasted so long. I want to be that person to help others when they need the assistance of getting out of a domestic violence relationship,” Ms. Peters said. “I feel this training has given me the ability and tools to help others because of the resources that were brought to my attention. As well as the different ways to identify when domestic violence is occurring.

“I decided to volunteer to be a peer advocate both because as a human service worker it’s amazing experience and because I know how important representation is when seeking help so having more queer and male advocates helping in any location is important,” said QCC student Tomas Steinbrecher. “I feel like for the most part your capacity to help others comes from you. But the training gave me the tools and knowledge to help classmates with domestic violence on campus.”

Many of the students who took this training will be moving into careers that put them in contact with individuals and families experiencing these issues.

“The YWCA certification will prepare them to engage appropriately in their professional careers,” Ms. Woods said.

The students said they not only learned that domestic violence so wide spread, but that there were many resources and ways to help someone in need.

“I would definitely recommend students to be advocates, the more hands on deck we have, the healthier students’ peer relationships can be. The training gives you a lot of information on what domestic abuse looks like and can help you have insight on your own relationships and behaviors,” said Mr. Steinbrecher.

“I would strongly urge anyone interested in learning how to be an ally to those affected by domestic violence to take this training,” Mr. Ketter added.

Ms. Woods said she is confident that this type of training will continue in the future.

“Congratulations to our first class of Domestic Violence Advocates here at QCC,” Ms. Woods added.

Anyone interested in the program should reach out to Ms. Safford at bsafford [at] or Ms. Woods at lwoods [at]

“I would completely recommend other students to become student advocates. The more awareness there is of domestic violence, the more likely more people could get help. Sometimes people slip through the cracks because of the lack of awareness,” Ms. Peters said.