The increased need for STAR® services affects all of us
Sexual trauma is a reality in our community that we cannot shy away from. Thriving sexual assault centers like STAR help make our communities healthier, safer and stronger; however, due to the lack of dedicated state funding for these services and the limited resources in local communities, centers like STAR continue to struggle to meet the steadily increasing demand from survivors and families.
Survivors of rape make up 1 in 5 women and 1 In 71 men in the communities we serve. Increased media attention along with the significant strides we are making to uplift survivors’ voices and experiences within the local community have contributed to an increased demand in sexual assault support services. These services—such as hotline support, counseling, individual advocacy and accompaniment, and systems advocacy—are provided by organizations like STAR at no cost to the survivor or their family.
We know that immediate intervention is critical to helping survivors recover from sexual trauma, and providing support services improves survivors’ participation in the criminal justice process, increases satisfaction with medical and legal responses, and decreases trauma symptoms.
To address survivor’s immediate needs, STAR provides our response services on a 24/7 basis. This equates to roughly 730 hours per month of our staff and volunteers being immediately available to respond to a sexual assault survivor. In a given month, with a small staff of 12 and an active volunteer base of 35 at our Baton Rouge branch, we provide these critical services to upwards of 200 survivors each month. In addition to the sheer number of survivors we serve, the time spent with each survivor ranges from 30 minutes to 8 hours.
These numbers combined, if averaged, would equate to services being provided to a survivor every second of the day, 365 days per year in Baton Rouge.
To illustrate the increase demand for our services, we compared the services numbers from last fiscal year to our current year.
Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, STAR advocates provided 1,099 direct response services to survivors; this includes:
- 843 callers assisted on our hotline
- 118 survivors accompanied to the hospital
- 138 survivors assisted through the criminal justice process
For our current year the number of survivors served through these services has already exceeded last year’s numbers; see the following chart for an illustration of the increasing number of services provided since July 1, 2015:
As the chart shows, there has been a consistent increase in demand for our 24/7 hotline, hospital accompaniment and criminal justice advocacy services.
From July 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016, STAR advocates have responded to:
- 1,203 hotline calls
- 154 requests for hospital accompaniment
- 228 requests for criminal justice advocacy
The number of services provided during July 2015 through April 2016 already surpasses the annual number in our last fiscal year by 500.
It is important to note that these service numbers only illustrate what we are currently able to provide with our limited capacity. We receive new requests for services each day, and we know that one day soon we will not be able to meet the immediate needs of every survivor that comes to us for help.
This is a reality we refuse to accept. To continue these services, it takes more.
We need your support to ensure that we meet the needs of every survivor. With an increase in funding of $15,000 by 6/30/16, STAR can increase our base of advocates available 24/7 to answer the hotline or meet a survivor at the hospital.
The availability of these services is critical to repairing individual survivors’ sense of self and improving the safety and quality of life of all members of our community. Without these services, individual survivors and their families would face emotional, social and economic hardships with no one to advocate on their behalf. Systems that interact with survivors—such as the medical and legal systems—would lack accountability because there is no organization to intervene and advocate on behalf of survivors. And, finally, without organizations like STAR promoting the message that prevention is possible and that with community support we can end sexual violence, we would continue to accept sexual violence as a normal part of our society that cannot be overcome.