Dealing with sexual assault is never easy. Luckily, there are resource centers in every state that are staffed with folks ready to help out. I am a Director for a local center, and when I meet with folks, they are often surprised at all that a sexual assault resource center (SARC) has to offer. Whether you have been directly affected by sexual assault, you are finding resources for someone you know, or you are wanting to be an active bystander in your community, there are services available for you at your local SARC.
When I explain what a SARC has to offer, I will mostly reference services provided by SARCs in Kentucky. Every state has a SARC (hopefully more than one) and they usually offer the same services. There might be a few differences, but they’re all generally the same format.
- 1) Advocacy
All SARCs offer advocacy. Advocates are the people that will support and guide you through legal, medical, and other system processes. They’re often seen in the community as people who are the first contact for survivors, their friends/family, and other community members. They accompany people to the hospital for forensic exams, go to court when someone files an emergency protective order, and getting locks changed to homes after assaults. They link you to community resources, lead trainings and info sharing spaces, and anything and everything you can think of outside of therapy.
2) Crisis Line.
All SARCs will have a 24/7 crisis line. You don’t have to be in crisis to call. This is a line to have someone to talk to, whenever you need it. You can remain anonymous, and just share what you’re feeling at that time. This line is also the first point of contact for many folks. This line is the gateway to all services provided at the SARC. They also have numbers to resources available for you, if you aren’t ready for direct services yet. Our crisis line is used as part of many people’s safety plans, after hour care, and life lines when times get rough.
Therapy is something generally everyone is familiar with. Therapy at SARCs, like all of their other services, is free. Your insurance (if you have it) isn’t billed, and you don’t have to have documentation of your residency. It’s therapy in almost it’s purest form. Therapist at SARCs are trained in a variety of trauma treatments, and clients are able to go more at their own pace.
4) Prevention Services
The goal of many SARCs is to “work themselves out of jobs”. That’s where the prevention departments at SARCs come into play. These people are trained in recognizing resiliency factors in their communities, training people in the community, and hopefully, rising up active bystanders in the community at large. This can be done in a variety of ways, and plays out depending on the state regulations. Prevention specialists are placed in schools, train the medical/professional community, and all other sorts of places to build a safer community.
SARCs are vital to the areas in which they serve and the people they encounter. When you are ready to talk to a person face to face, or even get support so you can lift up a friend that has experienced sexual assault, the people at your SARC are there to help. AVFTI has a lot of contact information for SARCs all over the country. Please reach out to us when you’re ready to link up with them.
If you want to know more, give a listen to Episode 28 of our podcast, More To The Story. In that episode, we breakdown these services and many more in detail to really give an understanding of what services are available at agencies. Listen at avfti.org/podcast or anywhere you find podcasts.