Inside the New "Sexual Assault Response Team" Center
Channel 2 News
Program Assistant Tina Schweizer remembers the 14-year-old girl who came in after being assaulted by her mother's boyfriend, and what the mother later told her: "That she herself had been a victim when she was younger, and she had never gotten the proper support she needed."
That support is here now…a special non-profit center for rape victims that opened just 2 years ago. It's called the "Sexual Assault Response Team Center". It's a building they did not want us to identify, somewhere in Sparks. The adult examination room is designed for a sensitive time: the medical equipment is hidden to the side. The lighting is dim, the walls, gentle. As Tina Schweizer told us, "We don't want to re-traumatize someone going through a forensic exam. It would be difficult to be with all these strangers and have to disrobe and things, so we want to make it as comfortable for them as possible."
There's a special examination room for children who are victims of sexual assault. Cartoon animals cover the walls. A big, pink elephant disguises what really is an examination bed. Colorful monkey masks camouflage what really is a magnification camera for evidence of rape. Nurse Coordinator Debbi Robison said they try to "kind of keep it all colorful and stuff so the kids don't feel like it's a medical exam, even though that's really what it is."
What it is, is light years away from the trip to the hospital. As Debbi told us, "Hospitals can be very scary. We try not to be. We have toys for the kids, to pick out a toy so they have a buddy to be with them during the exam."
It all works. Debbi has seen it for herself. "We have people who walk in here, obviously very upset and very tearful. And they walk out of her smiling and laughing. We give them permission to start healing."
The Sexual Assault Response Facility is an offshoot program from the Crisis Call Center. It depends on your donations to stay open, and they also need some new help. They say empathy is the most important quality they look for in volunteers. To join, call 784-8085. Or you can click this link for more information on volunteering: http://www.crisiscallcenter.org/howyoucan.html
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