SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS/SURVIVORS: STATUS OF CURRENT SEXUAL ASSAULT SERVICES
In the early 1970s, rape crisis centers (RCCs) were developed specifically to meet the needs of sexual assault survivors and their significant others by providing hotlines, crisis intervention, support groups, and individualized therapy. In addition, RCCs may accompany survivors, post-assault, to hospitals, police stations or to court proceedings (Gornick, Burt, & Pittman, 1985). RCCs may also focus on social change initiatives (e.g., eliminating society’s tolerance of sexual assault) through community education, protests, speak-outs, lobbying, and training other professional agencies on how to improve responsiveness to survivors (Burt, Zweig, Schlichter, & Andrews, 2000).
SEXUAL ASSAULT PROGRAMS: BASIC SERVICES | Back to Top
Depending upon the needs of the local area and resources available, the following are considered core services:
- 24-hour crisis hotlines
- Individual and group counseling for victims
- Support groups for victims and their children
- Advocacy in a number of key areas, including legal and medical
- Individual and group services for children
Services to sexual assault victims are provided free of charge and are always focused on safety. Philosophy and practice reflect an empowerment based or survivor-centered model of service provision. Advocates assist survivors in restoring personal power, control and dignity. Advocates help survivors identify options, make choices, and act on their own behalf. Services are provided to both male and female victims of violence and to their children.
COUNSELING| Back to Top
Counseling is one of the core services provided by local programs serving survivors of sexual violence. Counseling may take place in individual or group settings and it is usually designed to provide short-term support to victims/survivors. Counselors at local programs can refer survivors to outside therapists for long-term assistance. However, this is not always the case; some programs employ therapists among their staff. Counseling and other services provided by local programs serving survivors of sexual violence are free and confidential.
MAINTAINING CONFIDENTIALITY | Back to Top
Sexual assault service delivery and advocacy are rooted in confidentiality and privacy, which are crucial to victims seeking safety from perpetrators. The confidentiality of a victim’s conversations with a sexual assault victim advocate may be protected by state statute, and federal funding for sexual assault services requires programs to safeguard the privacy of records and information about those to whom they have provided services. Sexual assault programs take confidentiality very seriously because of its close link to victim safety.
EXPANDING THE NETWORK | Back to Top
In addition to local direct service programs, sexual assault victim advocates have built an expanded network of advocacy organizations. State, Tribal, and Territorial coalitions have also been established, along with comprehensive training and technical assistance centers. Collaborative efforts to enhance health care, criminal justice, social services, and community responses to sexual assault have been initiated on local, state and national levels. These programs and services are funded through many different state, federal, and private funding sources. For links to these organizations, please click here: http://www.nsvrc.org/organizations?tid=8&tid_1=All
Burt, M.R., Zweig, J.M., Schlichter, K., & Andrews, C. (2000). Victim Service Programs in the STOP Formula Grants Program: Services Offered and Interactions with Other Community Agencies. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
Gornick, J., Burt, M. R., & Pittman, K. J. (1985). Structure and activities of rape crisis centers in the early 1980s. Crime and Delinquency, 31, 247-268.