An Advocate for Survivors

Headshot of Rebekah Snyder
Rebekah Snyder '16 reads an anonymous victim advocate statement in the Michigan attorney general’s case charging former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar with sexually abusing young athletes. Image Credit: (Courtesy of Rebekah Snyder)

Rebekah Snyder, RWU Class of 2016

Major:  Forensic & Legal Psychology
Alumni

Rebekah Snyder '16, victim advocate in the Michigan attorney general’s office who supported 156 of the women who delivered searing, poignant victim impact statements in the trial of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, can easily trace how Roger Williams University prepared her for that work.

That's because while she was here, Snyder learned key skills and had defining experiences that gave her the skills and drive she needed to work with the women testifying against Nassar.

When Snyder came to RWU she worked in the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards as a graduate assistant. “I can tell you that was the single most important thing I was able to do at Roger Williams,” she says. Because there she learned how to listen to and have difficult conversations with students going through the disciplinary process.

That experience was backed up in her courses, where she learned about techniques like “motivational interviewing,” active listening and asking probing questions.

Eventually, she became involved in Title IX investigations, serving as an advocate for young women. She then started an internship at Day One Sexual Assault and Trauma Center in Providence, where she got firsthand experience and motivation to carry make a career out of this important work.

“I started boots on the ground, handling victim advocacy in the community, responding in the middle of the night to hospitals to help sexual assault victims in Rhode Island – in Woonsocket, Newport, wherever the call was coming in,” she says.

Snyder hopes to continue supporting crime victims in her career, especially survivors of sexual violence. “They should always know they have someone on their side,” she says. “And I hope to be that comfort for them.”

She feels Roger Williams University prepared her to carry on that work.

“My time at RWU prepared me to continue in this role, to continue to support people in one of the most difficult times in their life – to have conversations that are incredibly difficult while providing kindness, support and compassion throughout,” Snyder said. “I don’t know exactly where these experiences will lead me in my career, but I will continue taking leaps of faith and putting myself in tough situations because I know I can handle it, thanks to my time at RWU.