Simpson student advocates for protection of sexual abuse victims

by Zoe Seiler, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Nontraditional Simpson student Tiffany Allison spends her time at the Capitol lobbying for better legislation for victims of violent crimes.

Allison, co-founder and president of Soaring Hearts Foundation, is lobbying for SF22, a bill that would allow victims of sexual abuse to obtain a civil no-contact order against a perpetrator even if no arrest has been made.

“A lot of sexual assault victims don’t want to go through the criminal justice part of it, like with law enforcement. They don’t want to report or go to court and testify against their perpetrator,” Allison said. “[SF22] will allow victims who don’t want to do that an opportunity to still protect themselves, so they can get a civil protective order. Right now the way the law is you would have to report to law enforcement, and then on top of that, the perpetrator would have to be arrested and charged in order for you to obtain one.”

Allison became aware of the issue after being contacted by a sexual assault victim who was unable to obtain a no-contact order because she did not want to report her assault to police.

“I became aware that Janet Peterson was filing this piece of legislation, and Soaring Hearts got involved in the aspect of we help victims of violent crimes, and we support this legislation because we know it’s needed. And it will help people,” Allison said.

The legislation would help give victims more power in the situation.

“It also allows a little bit more agency in the victim because it allows victims to feel safe without pressing charges and without filing anything or making it a criminal case,” senior Hallen Phung said.

SF22 would provide more safety to students and staff in conjunction with current school policies.

“It’s important for the safety of students,” junior Tristan Carman said. “The school definitely has policies that they have in order to protect students, faculty and staff from people who are not a part of the college. Obviously the college and students here are concerned for people’s safety, and I think the bill would help with the safety of victims.”

Students can get involved by learning more about legislation that is important to them and contacting local legislators.

It’s important for students to know any sort of legislation that is coming up in the state or federal level because it affects the college they go to.

“Tell [legislators] a personal story or write them an email sharing something that happened to them or someone they know. Make that personal connection about why it’s important and why it should pass,” Allison said. “A lot of times it’s not an advocacy issue. It’s an education issue because this might be something a legislator has ever encountered before, and they might not understand it.”

Students can also go to the Iowa state Capitol on any day to speak to legislators or work with organizations that are speaking at the Capitol.

“It’s that little extra bit of effort, even if it doesn’t directly affect you, to do it because it’s right,” Phung said. “It really isn’t hard. Say you have a busy schedule, you take the five minutes it takes to walk to class to call your senator.”