The man who raped Angie (not her real name) had been hanging around as she moved into her apartment. She was by herself, carrying boxes and small pieces of furniture from a rented van into her new space. She noticed him watching, but since he wasn’t bothering her, she concentrated on getting settled. But then he rushed at her as she was going through the door, propelling her into the apartment, slamming the door and knocking her to the floor. It happened so fast she could hardly believe it.
Rape by a total stranger or rape by someone you know are both devastating and terrifying. Afterward, you may think you’re to blame, that somehow you caused it and feel ashamed and helpless. Survivors of rape need serious and immediate support and fortunately in Sullivan County, an advocate is available 24/7 through Turning Points Network’s crisis and information hotline.
If you have been raped, call for help (911) and ask to be taken to a hospital where there is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). Valley Regional Healthcare in Claremont provides this service as does New London Hospital. The SANE will call for an advocate from Turning Points Network to go through the process with you. This assault-trained nurse will provide medical care and assistance and the TPN advocate will provide support, information, answer any questions and escort you home or to another safe place. If you decide to report the assault to the police, the advocate will also support you during police interviews, legal processes and any follow up regarding charges, even accompanying you to court if you wish, to support you while providing a buffer between you and your assailant.
TPN Advocates are trained and experienced in assisting rape survivors at a time they are feeling most vulnerable. Non-judgmental and caring, advocates can help by outlining next steps and options when the survivor may be feeling overwhelmed and confused. Most of all, advocates help rape survivors regain confidence and empowerment from an experience perpetrated against them that is criminal and can feel overwhelming.
According to Janet Carroll RN, CEN, SANE-A (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) and Clinical Coordinator Adolescent/Adult SANE Program, DHMC, “The advocates from Turning Points Network are irreplaceable in their role at Valley Regional Hospital. They assist survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence at quite possibly the worst day of their lives. They enter the patient room non-biased, respectful and offer support, empathy, safety planning, and empowerment. Their ease of redirection and distraction are to be admired. They believe. They listen. They are simply the best!”
Carroll, also an Emergency Department Staff Nurse at DHMC, considers TPN’s advocacy services “invaluable to both patient and staff.” She continues, “Often the SANEs could not complete the full evaluation without the assist of the advocates.”
TPN Advocacy services are available during business hours by coming to Turning Points Network offices in Claremont or Newport or by calling the crisis and information line 1-800-639-3130 any time, night or day. Survivors do not need to be in crisis to call this number. Advocacy and all other supporting services at TPN are ongoing and free to survivors and their children and those who care about them.
OUR TURN is a public service series made available by Turning Points Network in celebration of its 40th anniversary of providing violence-prevention education programs in our schools, services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and helping people move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope. For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turningpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook.