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University of Massachusetts advocate for rape victims wins national award

AMHERST — Working to end sexual violence and support survivors, including those in marginalized communities, and building partnerships with local law enforcement officials, have earned the associate director of the Center for Women and Community national recognition.

Becky Lockwood, associate director of counseling and rape crisis services at the center based at the University of Massachusetts, is being honored with a 2013 Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The award, one of 23 nationwide, will be presented today at 2:30 p.m. at the center, located in the New Africa House, and coincides with Sexual Assault Awareness Month,

Lockwood was nominated by Jane Doe Inc., whose executive director, Mary R. Lauby, said in a statement that Lockwood has shown leadership and dedication to social justice.

“Massachusetts is so fortunate to have someone with such compassion, clarity and fortitude advocating on behalf of all victims and survivors of sexual violence,” Lauby said. “Becky deserves our praise and our gratitude.”

Lauby, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, a representative from State Rep. Ellen Story’s office and colleagues from UMass and the Amherst and UMass police departments are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Among Lockwood’s accomplishments is the creation of an onsite civilian advocate position at Amherst and UMass police stations where the individual works with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. It is being expanded to Northampton police station through state and federal funding. She also coordinated the Hampshire County Sexual Assault Response Team, which brings together staff from the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, campus and municipal law enforcement and health care providers to offer a victim-centered response to survivors of sexual assault, and participates in weekly meetings of the UMass Title IX Team that reviews how sexual and domestic violence and stalking is handled on campus.

In addition, with center co-director Giselle Zuniga, Lockwood has helped get more sexual assault victims obtain services from the center’s rape crisis advocates at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital emergency department, worked with the dean of students to have the center’s rape crisis staff automatically follow up by phone with survivors when they report sexual or relationship violence or stalking, and trained and involved volunteers to provide thousands of hours of support to victims and survivors in Hampshire County.

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