New services for survivors of sexual violence

Diane Raver | The Herald-TribuneTo help launch the new Rape Crisis Center for Southeast Indiana, Batesville Area Ministerial Association President Roger Dean (from left) presented a $25,000 check to Safe Passage community outreach director Mary Mattingly and executive director Jane Yorn.

"Services to survivors of sexual assault throughout southeast Indiana will be increasing greatly over the course of this year. Safe Passage Inc. has been awarded funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to develop a comprehensive Rape Crisis Center that will serve individuals who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their lives," says Safe Passage community outreach/communications director Mary Mattingly.

Since 1997, the nonprofit has been the sole provider of domestic violence victim support services in six counties in southeast Indiana. The 30-bed shelter is based in Batesville.

Currently, Indiana has only three Rape Crisis Centers while neighboring states Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have 89, 57 and 39, respectively.

“Our board and agency leadership have been examining the need for sexual assault services for more than two years,” recalls Safe Passage executive director Jane Yorn. “While the 20-year mission of Safe Passage has been to support the needs of those living with domestic violence, we feel the addition of sexual assault services aligns very well with the core of our work – providing help, healing and hope to survivors of intensely personal acts of violence.”

With the support of state funders, the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and local leaders, Safe Passage will be offering a Rape Crisis HelpLine, free counseling and support groups for survivors, hospital and legal advocacy, outreach services and bystander intervention and prevention programs.

The Batesville Area Ministerial Association was one of the first local partners to reach out and offer assistance. With its allocation of $25,000, infrastructure for the Batesville-based crisis HelpLine is being developed, a 10-week sexual assault survivors Bible study will launch this April, as well as other direct support programming.

Yorn reports, “We are currently hiring professional staff to develop and meet the needs specific to survivors of sexual violence. Many individuals have a painful experience in their past and have never had the opportunity to work through that hurt. We will have programs and supports to assist those survivors as well as those in immediate crisis.”

Additional information about the Rape Crisis Center and its programs will be released in the coming weeks. The Choosing Victory faith-based group study will be held in Batesville starting April 11. Persons may email ChoosingVictory@safepassageinc.org for more information.

Safe Passage is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that serves domestic violence victims and their children in Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn, Ohio, Jefferson and Switzerland counties. For information call the 24/7 free toll-line at 877-733-1990 or go online at www.safepassageinc.org.

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