By APRIL REYNOLDS
According to a study by the National Victim Center, 1.3
women, aged 18 and older, in the United States are forcibly raped each minute.
This figure translated equals 78 per hour, 1,871 per day
or 683,000 per year.
Joanie Griswold, director for Pine Hills Advocacy Center,
said the sexual abuse center offers services directly related to sexual
“If you’re 18 years or older, you have an option to
report assault to law enforcement, but there are still a lot of things you need
to do anyway,” she said.
“Whether or not you want to file criminal charges, we
offer the services victims can take advantage of, such as testing for sexually
transmitted diseases and rape- exam kits.”
Griswold said Pine Hills schedules appointments and
maintains all services for victims’ convenience and anonymity.
She said if victims are busy during office hours,
services can be extended to later times or weekend hours.
“We don’t want to inconvenience victims, cause further
trauma or embarrass them by causing them to have to get excuses for work or
classes,” she said.
Amanda Maxwell, community advocate for the Domestic Abuse
Resistance Team, said many women do not report abuse or sexual assault because
society tends to blame the victim.
“[D.A.R.T.] wants women to know that it is never
[acceptable] to be abused, and no matter how the [assault] happens or what
situation it happens in, no means no,” Maxwell said.
“It is never [the victim’s] fault.”
One in four college women are reported as victims of
rape, and only 16 percent of rapes are ever reported to the police, according
to the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault.
Maxwell said domestic violence and dating violence happen
quite often with younger populations, and D.A.R.T. serves to encourage more
women to speak out.
She said a lot of times women fail to report the assault
because of self blame.
“Typically victims blame themselves, like if a young
woman is at a party and is drinking, she may feel guilty and not report the
date rape,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said D.A.R.T. serves anyone suffering from
emotional, physical or mental abuse.
She said the team wants victims to know options are
available, even if victims do not want to report assaults.
“D.A.R.T. doesn’t force people to press criminal charges
or take action in any way; we simply present the options that people have,” she
“We are simply here to provide a sympathetic ear and to
assist through the situation.”
Maxwell said D.A.R.T. also offers a shelter for victims.
“It’s a safe place for women who feel unsafe and have
nowhere else to go,” she said.
Both D.A.R.T. and Pine Hills offer 24-hour hotlines seven
days a week, counseling services and legal advocacy.
Victims may call to speak with counselors or to get
information on what to do after their abuse.