Need confidential advocacy? Meet the new Gender Violence Services Coordinator.


holly-lovernPhoto courtesy of Holly Lovern.

This is Holly Lovern, one of the Gender Violence Services Coordinators (GVSCs) at UNC. She works in the Carolina Women’s Center, where she provides confidential support and resources for students, faculty, and staff who have experienced sexual or interpersonal violence, stalking, and other forms of discrimination and harassment. If you want to get a hold of Holly or her co-Coordinator, Cassidy Johnson, send them an email at gvsc@unc.edu.

I sat down with Holly to learn more about her and what she can do for you.

Kelli Raker (KR): Since you’re new to the area, what is your favorite thing about UNC-CH so far?

Holly Lovern (HL): My favorite thing about UNC-Chapel Hill so far is definitely the people I’ve met. The students, my colleagues, and all the campus partners I have the opportunity to work with have been so welcoming and have made Carolina feel like home very quickly!

KR: Tell me about your role as a Gender Violence Services Coordinator. What happens when someone comes to talk to you?

HL: During my first meeting with someone, I’ll explain my role, the kinds of help and support I can offer, and what being “confidential” means. From that point on, it is really up to each person on what they may want to talk about. The same is true for folks who meet with Cassidy Johnson, since we both serve as Gender Violence Services Coordinators (GVSCs) and our roles are the same!

We can talk about what has happened or is happening to them, and how it is impacting them. But we also don’t have to talk about that. We can talk about safety, self-care, the reporting process, resources available on campus and in the community, accommodations they might need, etc. Everyone’s needs are different, so we can focus our conversation to best meet those needs. I’m also here to any answer questions someone may have, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll try my best to find the person who does.

Based on what someone shares and needs, I offer to connect them to appropriate resources on campus and in the community that can provide additional help and support. I can also facilitate requests for accommodations regarding housing, academics, and interim protective measures. If someone chooses to connect with another resource or report to the University, I can also act as a support person if they would like me to and accompany them to any meetings and hearings they may have.

At the end of a meeting, we can talk about “next steps” ‘if there is something the person wants or needs moving forward. Some people may meet with me once and others may meet with me several times. I’ll offer to follow up with them at a later date if they are comfortable with it to check in. Overall, I’m really here to be whatever the person coming to my office needs me to be.

KR: What does being “confidential” mean?

HL: As a confidential advocate, I am not obligated to report what we talk about to anyone unless someone discloses child abuse, dependent abuse, elder abuse, or an intent to harm self or others. If any of those come up in our conversation, I do need to report it. However, we can talk together about connecting with appropriate resources.

KR: What do you want survivors to know about you and your role?

HL: I want survivors to know that I believe them and I’m here for them.

When connecting with the GVSCs, it’s okay if you know what you want and need, but it’s also okay if you don’t. We can process and work through that together. I want to help empower you to make the best choices and decisions for you and your well-being and success.

KR: What do you do for your own wellness?

HL: It depends on the day! I enjoy being around my family and friends and exploring the community around me. I also like being outside, especially near or out on the water. I can’t pass up a good book or Netflix series either, though!

KR: If you could be a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?

HL: I’m not a great cook, so this is kind of a funny question. Probably a cheese grater because I love cheese and a good quesadilla.

If you or a friend have experienced or are experiencing sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, harassment, or discrimination, learn about resources and support at safe.unc.edu.

Kelli is the Coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC Student Wellness. Read their bio here.

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