County offers help for sexual assault victims

Designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April creates an opportunity to bring awareness to sexual violence and its prevention in the Rogue Valley. It is also a chance to underscore the efforts of individuals and agencies in the area that provide rape crisis intervention, prevention, and support services to sexual assault survivors and their families.

There are several programs in Jackson County that help survivors of sexual violence and their families, including Sexual Assault Victim Services, which provides free and confidential services to members of the community 24 hours a day. SAVS is a Community Works program dedicated to providing support and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault and rape. Advocates, comprised of volunteers and staff, are trained to respond to sexual assault calls, either in person or over the phone. Advocates are available at 779-HELP or 888-609-HELP.

The goal is to create community awareness, help individuals understand the dynamics of sexual assault, and to dispel prevalent myths surrounding sexual assault and rape.

"SAVS is a vital resource to the community" says Renae DeSautel, volunteer coordinator for SAVS. "One in six women are sexually assaulted, most before the age of 18, and many don't report the crime. We offer support groups and access to counseling for many survivors."

Volunteer advocates are an integral part of SAVS. On-call advocates respond to calls related to sexual violence either in person or over the phone. Each volunteer has staff backup at all times and is provided with extensive training in all areas of violence against women, men and children. Volunteer opportunities are available for persons interested in doing school presentations and office related tasks. SAVS asks for a minimum six month commitment from volunteers.

There is a volunteer training being held on May 3rd and 4th, and if you are interested in supporting Sexual Assault Victim Services as a volunteer, you can contact Renae DeSautel at 779-2393 ext. 212.

is a Phoenix High School Senior. This write-up is part of her senior project focusing on sexual assault awareness.

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