ANJC Advocate Kayla Cox’s passion for helping assault victims goes beyond the office and into the classroom
Kayla Cox came to the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) as an intern for the Reentry Program in 2018. But while her interest in reentry led her to ANJC, her experience working for the organization inspired a new area of focus: advocacy for victims of sexual assault.
Starting in 2019, Kayla pivoted to working with ANJC’s advocacy team, where she could provide support to women and other individuals who had experienced sexual assault or domestic violence. “Advocacy became a passion of mine because it allows survivors the opportunity to have a voice in situations where voices often go unheard,” she said.
Through advocacy, ANJC helps victims navigate the court system and access legal representation; advocates assist individuals with referrals to additional resources, case management, safety planning, court accompaniment, and other culturally sensitive services.
Kayla’s passion for advocating on behalf of individuals who have experienced sexual assault goes beyond the workplace. This year, she graduated from Alaska Pacific University (APU) with a bachelor’s in counseling psychology after completing a senior project that identified trends in sexual assault awareness among APU students.
Her project collected anonymous feedback from APU students to measure the trends in sexual assault awareness across the university. Kayla intends to use the results of her study to help expand resources on campus and in the community.
In her study, she emphasized inclusivity, pointing out that gender, race, sexual orientation, and other identity factors impact how an individual experiences sexual assault.
“In order to offer inclusive assistance and resources, we have to have inclusive data,” Kayla said in a feature on 2021 graduating seniors highlighted by APU.
Marlene Mack, ANJC Senior Program Manager for Advocacy and Kayla’s supervisor, isn’t surprised by the focus of Kayla’s project.
“It really shows that her work is her passion,” Marlene said.
Part of Kayla’s advocacy work is supporting victims through the Sexual Assault Response Team. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she made sure victims had the support they needed, offering virtual options for the individuals with whom she worked. As soon as in-person meetings were possible, Kayla “jumped right in,” Marlene said. “She has a gift. She was born to do advocacy work.”
Since graduating, Kayla has continued to collaborate with other organizations, like Standing Together Against Rape, to provide resources for victims. She also actively incorporates cultural representation into her advocacy work. Now that she has earned her degree, Kayla is considering returning to school to pursue a master’s degree.
“Through my work, I am able to help support and guide survivors to find the best options for their healing,” Kayla said. “By providing the opportunity for survivors to be heard, I’m able to contribute to breaking the stigma around sexual violence through giving power back to our survivors.”