United Way of Franklin County volunteers are proud to support Directions! Rape Crisis Support & Advocacy Program which was developed through the Community Mental Health Center and provides services to residents of the county, said Kathy O’Bryan, UWFC publicity chair.
The program has two components, prevention education and support and advocacy services. Directions! has offered these programs since 1977, many of these years supported by UWFC.
The Sexual Assault Awareness Program was the first one launched. It is offered to eighth-grade students in individual classrooms over two consecutive days and covers the topics of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. The program educates students on legal ages of consent, rape drugs, acquaintance and stranger rape, reporting and assertive communication skills. It has a strong focus on respect, not only for others but how they deserve to be treated. Students are given information on how to get help and community resources that are available.
Dating Violence Awareness is offered to tenth-grade students in individual classrooms over two consecutive days. DVA covers healthy versus unhealthy relationships. Students openly participate in discussion about relationships and learn the qualities of healthy ones. A strong focus is placed on respect. After building the foundation of healthy relationships, the program turns to raise awareness about unhealthy relationships, specifically dating violence. Students learn the warning signs of potentially dangerous relationships, how victims get caught in the abuser’s web, the cycle of violence and how to safely break free from a dangerous relationship.
Day two offers teens an opportunity to brainstorm ideas and ways to reach out to friends that are in potentially dangerous relationships as well as what victims can do to begin the process of breaking free. Students are given information on community resources available to help.
DIRECTIONS! provides support and advocacy services to victims/survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence. A team of 20 volunteers from the five-county service areas answer the 24-hour hotline and provide hospital and court accompaniment, legal advocacy and peer counseling.