Local non-profit works to offer free sexual assault counseling services to the community
One of the most important parts of surviving sexual assault is the healing process that comes after. While this is never an easy process, Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) is hoping to ease the financial needs for survivors so they can receive the necessary assistance.
SASS is a local non-profit organization in Eugene that has been supported solely by grants and donations since 1991. Beginning this September, SASS will be offering free counseling services to survivors 15 years and older.
SASS’s Counseling and Group Services Coordinator Rebecca Robinson hopes that by making counseling free, she can help more survivors in the community.
“We have survivors that come in all the time asking about counseling services,” Robinson said. “And while there’s amazing mental health professionals out in the community, what will be different here is that our focus is narrower, and our ability to provide counseling for sexual assault survivors is our main piece.”
SASS has been working with UO’s Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services to spread the word about its counseling services. This is an important relationship that can help students understand their options, according to director Renae DeSautel.
“We’re very excited to hear that SASS is able to provide this resource,” DeSautel said. “I think it’ll be a great asset for the community as well as for our students.”
Through the university’s Counseling and Testing Center, students are eligible to receive free counseling, but students also have the option of going off campus. Being able to do this gives students wider options when it comes to counseling choices.
Along with the university, SASS is receiving support from another local non- profit organization, The Trauma Healing Project. Started in 2004, this organization has been a staple of the Lane County community, helping survivors heal, using methods like yoga and acupuncture.
Melina Granofsky works with The Trauma Healing Project, but also interned with SASS last summer. Granofsky saw firsthand the way that SASS helps the community while she shadowed SASS’s 24 hour crisis and support line. Granofsky says that SASS offering these new services works perfectly with the services that The Trauma Healing Project offers.
“If someone is processing something on a certain level but they need just a little bit more when they leave, they need some kind of support level, it’s a great feeling to know ‘hey, there’s this group out there and you can go check out this group, there’s other individuals there, other people who are healing on the same level’,” Granofsky said. “It opens up another door for healing, and it compliments what we do here since we don’t have that service.”
While sexual assault is an issue that reaches far and wide in every community, SASS and its partners are working hard to end it.
“One of our educational pieces is about the bigger picture and creating positive change,” Robinson said. “Of course our ultimate goal would be to end sexual violence which is a lofty goal for sure, but we work hard to do what we can to make that happen.”
SASS Crisis and Support Line: 541-343-7277
UO Counseling Center: 541-346-3227
Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services: 541-346-SAFE
Trauma Healing Project: 541-687-9447
Follow Erin Carey on Twitter: @elcarey