Newberry Observer

Sexual Trauma Services of Midlands information

This week Newberry NOTES sponsor Sexual Trauma Services of Midlands with Mary Dell Hayes, executive director, as spokesperson. She joins me to address the broad spectrum of sexual violence and to increase the public’s understanding and awareness about sexual violence (focusing on sexual assault) and to educate individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

Sexual Trauma of the Midlands is a private non-profit United Way member agency serving Richland, Lexington and Newberry counties. Services have been provided for 25 years to the Midlands. The agency’s mission is to provide services of sexual assault and abuse, and also education about sexual trauma issues. All services are free and confidential.

Two of the most crucial services offered are the 24-hour crisis response — hospital accompaniment and the crisis HOTLINE: (1-800-491-7273). They average one hospital call per day. Their HOTLINE averages 25 calls a month. Support, advocacy and information follow-up services, including counseling is provided.

What is Sexual Assault? Sexual Assault is a form of abuse that involves one or more people forcing, coercing, and manipulating another person in order to gain sexual contact. Sexual assault can include rape, unwanted touching, fondling or kissing, forcing someone to look at or pose for pornographic material.

Every four hours and 46 minutes someone is forcibly raped in South Carolina. Only 39 percent of violent crimes are ever reported. Sexual crimes are costly to the community. Nearly 4.1 billion is the direct costs of medical and mental health care, nearly 1.8 billion is the indirect costs in lost productivity.

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands works with a number of churches in the community. The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and also Newberry College, where many students are volunteers and co-host events.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. The importance concerns men, women and children of all ages. The Newberry Advisory Council, which meets quarterly and promotes agency services, is located 1530 Main Street, Newberry, and welcomes new members, volunteers (803-790-8208).

Sexual Assault is the most common violent crime in America.

STSM does work to help people in a variety of ways after the assault. There is no statute of limitations for reporting the act. A volunteer can accompany the victim to court or to write a report of an assault.

What you should do if you are assaulted:

It is important to get a medical report and care. Make sure you do not have any injuries. If you plan to report the assault to the police STSM can accompany you on that occasion and to court.

Sexual assault is a form of abuse, that involves one of more people forcing, coercing and/or manipulating another person in order to gain sexual contact control. It is never the victim/survivor’s fault, sexual assault can happen anywhere, any time of the day.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault or abuse, volunteers are here specifically for you. It does not matter when the assault occurred or whether you are male or female, they are here to help you and provide unconditional support. All services are free. Sexual Assault HELPLINE (1-800-491-7271).

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Margaret Brackett

Contributing Columnist

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.