Home Nonprofit organization “You are not alone”: how local organizations support victims of sexual assault

“You are not alone”: how local organizations support victims of sexual assault

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In times of crisis, it is important for students and community members to understand what resources are available to them.

Tuscaloosa SAFE Center

The Tuscaloosa SAFE Center is a non-profit agency that provides 24-hour healthcare, advocacy and counseling services to people who have been sexually assaulted. The SAFE center offers medical and forensic examinations to patients who request one within three to four days of an assault.

Brenda Maddox, executive director of the SAFE Center, said the majority of patients are members of the Tuscaloosa community, but the organization receives a significant portion of patients from the University of Alabama.

“The University does a great job with resources for advocacy and advice. [However], it doesn’t have the capacity to provide the forensic component, ”Maddox said. “This is where we come in.”

The SAFE Center partners with the University to provide health care and aftercare for students. Maddox said this care is important for first-semester students because it is a high-risk time for sexual assault cases.

“Over 50% of sexual assaults in college occur from August through November,” Maddox said. “[Students] are often away from their families and hometown for the first time and encounter situations where alcohol is readily available.

Maddox said 20% of students do not report their sexual assault cases to law enforcement because they knew their abuser and felt obligated to protect the abuser.

“They fear retaliation,” Maddox said. “They didn’t feel like you would believe them.”

The SAFE Center alleviates some of these concerns for victims of sexual assault. Because this is a confidential agency, patients are never billed for services and staff only report the assault at the patient’s request, except in certain cases where the SAFE Center is required by the law to report assault.

In addition to collecting forensic evidence, the SAFE Center can assess injuries and treat sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

The Women and Gender Resource Center

The Women and Gender Resource Center is a non-profit organization linked to the AU Student Life Division. WGRC provides free, confidential and voluntary counseling and advocacy services to survivors of interpersonal violence.

WGRC services are also provided to families and friends of abuse survivors, students of Shelton State Community College, and anyone experiencing violence on the University of Alabama campus.

Jackie Northrup, deputy director of the WGRC, said the organization has partnered with other Tuscaloosa agencies to benefit community members for more than 20 years.

“We have had a stable partnership with Skyland Elementary School for over a decade as the host site for our Young Women Leaders Program and Young Men Leadership Program,” said Northrup. “We also worked with them on women in STEM projects and other initiatives. ”

The SAFE Center and the WGRC coordinate support and resources for AU students.

“We are working hand in hand with the WGRC, which provides lawyers for the medical examination, and we can help them connect them with the WGRC for advice and / or Title IX as requested,” Maddox said. .

In addition to their pre-existing services, the WGRC is currently running a campaign to collect hygiene products alongside the Stronger Families program of the Hispanic Interest Coalition.

September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. To recognize this, the WGRC is partnering with the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, or HICA, to collect hygiene products for Hispanic and Latino survivors of domestic violence until the end of September. The project is led by the WRGC Action Team, which is made up of volunteers.

Northrup said students can support the project even if they can’t donate items.

“Students can always get involved by sharing information about the program on social media,” Northrup said.

All items will be delivered to HICA during the first week of October and will benefit survivors who use HICA’s Stronger Families program.

The product wish list is available through Amazon. All contributions should be mailed or directly dropped off at the WGRC at 1101 Jackson Ave., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.


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