RESTORE, a sexual assault service for students, started off as a group of a few volunteers about 45 years ago. Since then, it has grown and worked diligently to promote awareness, support, and prevention against sexual violence through education and advocacy.
“RESTORE is a community agency that services anyone who’s been affected by sexual assault,” RESTORE College Advocate and Education Specialist Emmy LoBrutto said. “Whether that’s survivors themselves or their family members or loved ones. We cover nine different colleges in our area but then we also service men, women, and children in our community.”
RESTORE is confidential, unlike many other resources available when it comes to reporting sexual misconduct on campus. They are not affiliated with UR, so no reports made to RESTORE will be shared with the University.
“Many of the people working at the school, [such as] Title IX Conduct — they are private meaning they will only tell people who they feel need to know,” LoBrutto said. “I will not tell anyone unless someone’s of greater harm to themselves or others, or if there is suspected child or elder abuse. In those cases, I would have to report. But, I will not share any information unless someone wants me to.”
Along with free short-term counselling sessions, they also offer consultation via email or through their 24-hour hotline (585-546-2777) that is available at any time of the day on any day of the year.
The hotline is run by trained volunteer advocates who provide emotional support for survivors. They can also direct survivors to medical, legal, and counseling services.
“We have an open-door policy,” LoBrutto said. “I’m here to try to help anyone given their circumstances. If our services aren’t appropriate for them, then I would be more than happy to try to to help connect them to appropriate services that could benefit them.”
LoBrutto has a busy Orientation Week ahead explaining the services RESTORE offers to incoming first-years.
She also helps educate Greek Life on bystander intervention, affirmative consent, dating violence, how to handle disclosure, and how to empower people to look out for each other. She wants to try and focus on more male-driven conversations for the future.
“I want to know the people I’m talking to and get their ideas on what we are talking about,” LoBrutto said. “This isn’t a very black and white issue and we want people to feel like they are being heard. We can lead the conversation to where they want it to go to what’s going to help teach them or inform them the best way.”
According to LoBrutto, this upcoming semester will be the first time RESTORE has an education program with UR Athletics.
RESTORE hopes to expand on the Clothesline Project (sexual assault survivors design and hang up t-shirts to tell their stories), as well as a possible 5K during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
While LoBrutto admits her job is tough, she said it doesn’t phase her.
“It can be challenging at times but it’s honestly the resilience of my clients that pushes me through,” LoBrutto said.