Earlier this month, the University Chronicle had a chance to sit down with current Assistant Director of Saint Cloud State’s (SCSU) Women’s Center, Lee LaDue, to talk about her goals with prevention gender violence on campus.
LaDue first, shares her experience with a gender violence case, and how that has directed her towards working to prevent gender violence in the community.
Lee LaDue sat patiently inside the confines of the courtroom as a victim advocate, along with her client who had been sexually assaulted. “I’m always concerned about how the victim will be treated in the legal system and always hope they have a judge that has a good background in understanding victim issues.”, said LaDue
However, LaDue was pleasantly surprised when she recognized the judge as someone who was knowledgeable and fair. The judge proceeded with the case, treating both the victim and the accused, with the utmost of respect.
“She did such a good job with supporting the victim who read an impact statement and said amazing things to her, while at the same time, holding the accused accountable and challenged him to recognize the harm he had done, encouraging him to change his life,” LaDue said. After this case, LaDue realized the large impact that spreading knowledge of gender violence can have on creating better services for crime victims.
“In all the years I have sat in courtrooms, I have never seen anyone manage the situation better than that judge,” LaDue said. “It was just one of those moments, that I sat back and realized how much things have improved over the years I’ve done this work.”
LaDue has been the Assistant Director of the Women’s Center and their lead coordinator for the Gender Violence Prevention Program at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) for over 25 years. Ladue is the lead advocate for preventing gendered crimes and her main goal is to provide trauma victims with various resources that help them get back on their feet.
“I coordinate the Gender Violence Prevention Program at the SCSU Women’s Center, so I work in three areas. One is direct services, such as running a support group and doing direct support counseling. The second is prevention education with groups and the third are working on policies and laws to improve the system,” LaDue said.
LaDue says her favorite part of the job is working directly with students on campus and listening to their ideas on how to prevent gendered violence. She also enjoys helping victims of trauma and is honored to be along on their journey of healing.
“They show incredible strength and courage and seeing them heal and go on with their lives, is a great part of my job,” LaDue said.
She has also worked to influence the way that SCSU handles gendered crime prevention and response. She is proud that SCSU is one of the few universities in Minnesota that offers a class on sexual assault advocacy.
LaDue believes that one of the positive changes she has seen over the years is that SCSU has a team of people that collaborate and work together to respond to sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, which is essential to creating change.
“LaDue is the most passionate person that I have ever had the opportunity to work with and I think every university should have an advocate for sexual violence that cares as much as she does,” the Women Center’s Outreach and Programming assistant, Sanju Neupane said.
“It’s not perfect but I’ve really seen changes with police, prosecution and judges, at least in this area, I feel like things are getting better,” LaDue continues, “These improvements are happening because key players are working together, challenging one another and education has improved over the years for the key professions working with survivors. I just feel fortunate to be a small part of that.”