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Rape Response: More Than a Crisis Line

By Allison Wilson

One in 6 females and one in 33 males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. On average it takes a female 10 years to disclose and males 20 years to disclose sexual assault. The emotions that can engulf survivors of sexual assault are heartbreaking. It is important for them to feel free to talk about their assault and get their physical and emotional health taken care of for healing to begin.

That's where Rape Response comes in. Rape Response is a nonprofit agency with 24/7 services for female and male survivors of sexual assault, ages 13 and older. The agency has been in existence for 27 years and serves six counties in Northeast Georgia: Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, and White. Its free and confidential comprehensive services include a 24-hour crisis hotline; emergency room response and support; court accompaniment for victims during legal proceedings and trial; and short-term crisis intervention to help victims as they begin to recover.

Rape Response also provides information and referrals for resources and services to support individualized needs and situations; aftercare health screenings and examinations in collaboration with public health clinics; and prevention education.

The organization is an advocate of collaboration among law enforcement, health, criminal justice and other social service organizations to update and maintain the Sexual Assault Protocol in each judicial circuit served. Additionally, it convenes Sexual Assault Response Team meetings for participants to continually work together for the highest quality of service to victims and the community.

"Sexual abuse is rampant in children, adolescents and adults, and the effect on lives can be devastating," says Jeanne Buffington, Executive Director of Rape Response Inc. "Experts estimate that there are over 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse in the US. For every one person you know who is a survivor of cancer, there are most likely two, three, four or more survivors of child sexual abuse in your world. You just don't know who they are."

Adams says the community can help support survivors by being mindful of the statistics and realizing that we all probably know someone whose life has been impacted by sexual assault. She encourages nonjudgmental listening if survivors choose to talk with you and suggests becoming aware of the available resources for help.

Rape Response helps raise awareness in the community by participating in various events centered around survivors throughout the six county service area. The organization also participates in Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, hosting a Change for Change awareness, prevention and fundraising campaign throughout the month. They are a collaborative partner for Dancing for a Cause and manage an ongoing Grateful Hearts fundraising campaign, in which donors who give $100 are recognized as Grateful Heart donors on a plaque in the organization's lobby.

"The community, as well as advocates and professional collaborative partners such as medical, law enforcement and judicial personnel have been supportive of Rape Response," Buffington says, "That's important because sexual assault and child sexual abuse can be as difficult for communities to grasp as it is for survivors to disclose."

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About The Author

Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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