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Rape Response to offer services in Franklin County

By Staff
Melissa Cason, Franklin County Times
Imagine you are someone who has just become a victim of a sexual assault.
You are afraid, and unsure of what to do.
Where would you go for help and support? If you are in Franklin County, now there is someone you can call to assist you so that you find the help you need.
"Victims are often lost in the shuffle between the emergency room and the police statement," Victim Services Coordinator for Rape Response, Leslie Sawyer said.
Rape Response, located in Florence, serves victims of sexual abuse in Franklin County by providing support and comfort to them during their time of need, Sawyer added.
"We go to the hospital with the victim, and also attend court proceedings to offer the victim support," she said.
Rape Response also provides counseling for the victim, and offers them referrals to other providers as needed.
"We are there to offer support and to believe the victim," Sawyer said.
In addition to the services that are expected of a crisis center, Rape Response will soon begin offering rape exams in a private, comfortable setting so that rape victims will have an alternative the emergency room visit.
Beginning in July, Rape Response will have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E.), who is specially trained to perform medical examination and collection evidence in the privacy of the S.A.N.E. Center, on staff, Sawyer said.
"These exams will be available to victims 24-hours a day, and will allow the victim less wait time than the emergency room," Sawyer said.
The S.A.N.E. Center will also feature a conference room, where law enforcement and/or the victim's family can wait for the exam to be completed.
"Exams in the S.A.N.E. Center must be completed within 72 hours of rape, and the victim must be willing for report the rape to law enforcement," Sawyer said.
In addition to the programs designed to support victims through their ordeal, Rape Response is also working on establishing a Sexual Abuse Response Team (SART) in Franklin County to help law enforcement.
The local SART Team will include members from the medical community, The Department of Human Resources and law enforcement, who will all come together to discuss how sexual abuse cases should be handled, and offer training to law enforcement to give them the knowledge of how to deal with rape and sexual assault victims. Rape Response is a non-profit organization funded by state and federal grants. For more information on the services offered by Rape Response, call 767-1100.

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