What To Expect From a Rape Crisis Center
If you’ve recently experienced sexual violence and need a confidential setting in which to feel safe, process the experience, receive support, or get advice on next steps and options, your local Rape Crisis Center (RCC) could be a wonderful resource. RCCs often do work across multiple areas related to survivors of sexual violence, such as counseling and hotline support, referrals to community resources, outreach and organizing, survivor advocacy, legislative policy work, and educational programs. While all Rape Crisis Centers are slightly different, you should be able to expect the following:
You will be believed.
Rape Crisis Centers are staffed with highly trained counselors, advocates and social workers who specialize in crisis intervention and trauma work with survivors, and who show up to work every single day ready to listen, validate, and hold your experience alongside you. They are there for you.
You can call a crisis hotline, which is often available 24/7.
Central to the Rape Crisis Center model is a hotline where you can call for immediate and confidential support. This number can be easily located on your regional Rape Crisis Center’s website homepage. Those answering the phones have been specially trained to support you, and hold knowledge of resources specific to your geographic area. RAINN offers the following as things you can likely expect from the person on the other end of the line:1
- Confidential support from a trained staff member
- Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
- Someone to help you talk through what happened
- Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
- Referrals for long term support in your area
- Information about the laws in your community
- Basic information about medical concerns
You can get connected to a medical advocate to accompany you to the hospital.
Getting a medical exam to ensure your physical health after an assault or getting a medical forensic exam if you’re considering reporting the assault to the police can be overwhelming processes. Having an advocate there to help navigate the system and make sure your needs are being met with care can help take some of the emotional burden off of your shoulders.
You can access counseling to support you on your healing journey.
Individual counseling and group therapy are on offer at most RCCs. Work with trained specialists who spend their days working with survivors of sexaul violence. Every Center will have its own intake process, so call your local Rape Crisis Center for specifics.
You can get connected to a legal advocate.
Navigating the legal system, especially as a survivor, can be a very complicated process, which is why having an advocate trained in your state’s laws who will show up just for you can be incredibly valuable. While legal advocates are not lawyers and usually can’t provide legal advice, they can help support you as you move through the process, and connect you with legal representation if needed.
You can support policy that impacts how the government responds to and thinks about sexual violence.
Many RCCs take their localized work to state and federal levels, influencing legislation with their deep frontline knowledge of what survivors need to access safety, healing, and joy. What’s more, many RCCs are members of larger coalitions and networks of other community-based organizations that support survivors and work to end a culture of sexual violence. We are stronger together.
You can be part of a community learning, growing, and working together to disrupt a culture of sexual violence.
Most RCCs offer some kind of educational component. Classes and workshops might span from topics like consent, to how to be a parent to a survivor, or what to do if you think a child might be experiencing sexual violence. Depending on the RCC, these offerings might take place online or in person. The more we learn as a community, the stronger we are.
You are not alone. You are believed. You are seen.
There are hundreds of people all over the country waiting for your call. To find resources near you, visit our resource library.