Sexual violence is a pervasive problem. Victims advocates say 25-percent of all women in the U.S. -- and one in seven men -- will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. For the last 40 years the Women's Rape Crisis Center in Burlington has been assisting the survivors. But now big changes are on the horizon.
The Women's Rape Crisis Center says it's message to sexual violence survivors is the same.
"It's particularly important for sexual assault survivors to seek services -- to break that isolation and to know that they're not alone and that they were not at fault for the assault," said Cathleen Wilson. The organization's Executive Director. But the organization is changing it's name to better reflect who they are and what they do. "We feel a name like Hope Works will open up doors and open up opportunities for our organization and for the people that we serve that a name like Women's Rape Crisis Center would have closed those doors."
Every year more than 500 sexual violence survivors walk through the organization's door looking for help -- 15-percent of them are men.
"Sometimes it's seen as the stereotype that men can't be raped -- men can't face sexual assault, but that certainly is not true," said Tony Moulton, an educator for the organization. He says when the survivor is an adult male, the perpetrator tends to be another man, but with boys the abuser could be either male or female. He helps them through their healing process. "Some of the particular challenges are feeling that coming out as a survivor somehow makes them less of a man, when in truth they face the same challenges as women and it's not their fault that sexual violence has happened to them."
The center offers a 24 hour hotline, support groups and prevention education. But wether you are an adult male, female or teen sexual violence survivor seeking help can be tough. So Hope Works is adding a new high tech tool to it's website. It's called Chatline and it allows sexual violence survivors to anonymously talk to an advocate. Hope Works is the first in the state to use a tool like this.
"If someone is not ready to speak to somebody on the phone this is a great way to reach out -- somebody who is an advocate could provide a link to another site or another bit of information. They could also just be a lifeline," Moulton said.
The Chatline starts Wednesday. It will be available on Hope Works website Monday through Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. The goal is to eventually make it a 24 hour service like the organization's hotline.
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