For 440 hours, Pacific University Senior Madeline Clark worked with victims of sexual assault. Clark, majoring in social work, interned at the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) in Beaverton, Ore. for her senior capstone.
Clark chose to intern at SARC because of her interest in the issues surrounding sexual violence in today’s society. She is an active member of the advocacy program at Pacific, so her internship tied perfectly with work she was already involved with across campus.
The graduating seniors role is to be a supportive resource for victims of sexual assault during the reporting process in both hospitals and police stations.
During her internship, Clark said that she learned more about how prevalent sexual assault really is in society’s culture.
“Sexual violence is so common amongst anyone and everyone,” Clark said. “I’ve seen people from all different walks of life come in and use this program.”
What Clark also found to be interesting during her practicum was how common it was for the victims to not be believed.
“Doing this work made it a lot more real,” Clark said. “I was able to learn the reality of the situation much more.”
Clark also faced some challenges while interning at SARC. There is always something new to deal with — family members, situations she was not expecting and many other difficult scenarios. However, community members such as doctors, police officers and nurses remain in the room with Clark as she does her role providing support.
“It’s difficult to be a supportive person while not stepping on professionals toes, and navigating around the work they’re trying to do as well,” Clark said. “This role is also challenging in the fact that it’s hard to not take all of it home with me sometimes.”
Clark does not officially have to do a research project for her capstone, but through her time interning she has found herself wondering about whether decriminalizing sex work would lower the rate of sexual violence against sex workers. All of her research says no so far, but she is still determined to make a difference with victims of sexual assault.