By: Hilary Pacha, Medical & Legal Advocate, Stepping Stones
My name is Hilary Pacha and I am the Medical/Legal Advocate at YWCA McLean County Stepping Stones Sexual Assault Program.
YWCA McLean County’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. Being a single mother and working here, specifically with the Stepping Stones Sexual Assault Program, has allowed me the opportunity to directly implement this mission. I strive for my son (pictured with me to the left) to grow up in a world that sees our mission succeed.
As the Medical/Legal Advocate, I see clients in the moments, hours, and days following a horrific, life altering event. Sometimes I am the only person in that hospital room that is there to support, validate, and comfort them. For this reason, I find it crucial for me to ensure that their medical and legal options are explained to them so they can make a well informed decision.
My services continue to be vital to the clients as the weeks, months, and sometimes years pass after their sexual assault. As Medical/Legal Advocate, I connect sexual assault survivors and their loved ones to appropriate services, resources, and community partners. In addition to connecting survivors with ongoing support, I provide a multitude of advocacy services. These include, but are not limited to assisting with filing Civil No Contact Orders, court advocacy throughout the duration of the case and serving as a liaison to local police departments, hospitals, and prosecutors. I support my clients through the lengthy and tempestuous world of a criminal case by attending all court hearings. I also help with immediate needs, such as food, shelter, financial assistance, employer or school intervention. To name all of the resources my clients may require in the aftermath of a sexual assault is impossible. Each sexual assault survivor is unique, which is why it is crucial for me to treat each client individually with the utmost respect and provide a safe, nonjudgmental, caring, and trusting environment for them to come to for help.
Angela Ambers-Henderson, Vice-President of Program Operations at YWCA McLean County challenges staff to position ourselves for greatness and strive for excellence. This has long been a professional goal of mine; therefore, through my work with the Stepping Stones Program, I continue to go above and beyond to meet my clients’ needs. I have the opportunity to create positive change in the lives of individuals as well as the community as a whole. Empowering my clients and promoting peace, freedom, justice, and dignity for them as well as the community at large, is not only the mission of YWCA McLean County, but is my personal life mission as well.