Safe Connections Advocate
Overcoming Sexual Assault: A Survivors Story
victims of sexual assault and the overcoming it took in order to find themselves again. One woman was brave enough to share her story and the victory she pril is Sexual Assault found though the programs and Awareness month and staff at Safe Connections. Safe Connections and many othA year after her rape Carol er companies and individuals are was referred by a friend to Safe gearing up for various walks and campaigns all over the country to try to get people to say “No more” to sexual assault. Sexual abuse is categorized in different ways but it can be defined as “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit Connections. For over a year, consent of the victim.” Forms Carol tried to cope with her asof sexual assault include rape, sault on her own, but after fightattempted rape, unwanted sexu- ing with anxiety and depression al touching, and forcing a victim she turned to Safe Connections to perform sexual acts. Half of for help. She said “For me to women and one in five men have remake myself after took years of experienced sexual assault in therapy at Safe Connections. I’d their life. Sexual assault hapthink I was doing better, and the pens to people of all different bottom would fall out, another ages, from children to adults Table of Contents and while most perpetrators are The Lotus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 male they can also be women Adult Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 and unfortunately the perpetra- Teen Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 tor is often times someone that Kara’s Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 victims know. Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Safe Connections has many Contact Us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 victorious stories from the
deep depression, but eventually I got there. And it is weird now, because I don’t know how to explain it, but I somehow know that whatever struggles I have in the future, I won’t be going back to that same dark, dark place. I’m a different person now.” Carol is a reminder to everyone that not only is it hard, but it is possible to work through the things that happen to you and with Safe Connections you are not alone in the process to feel yourself again.
Our Mission he mission of Safe Connections is to reduce the impact and incidence of relationship violence and sexual assault through education, crisis intervention, counseling and support services. Agency Overview Safe Connections is proud to be one of the St. Louis region’s oldest and largest organizations working to prevent and end domestic and sexual violence while helping survivors reclaim their lives. Our services in prevention education, crisis intervention and counseling make a big difference for families and the health of our community. Safe Connections has grown steadily since our inception in 1976 when we began as grassroots domestic violence crisis hotline. It quickly became clear
Safe Connections Advocate 1
About Us cont. that counseling services for victims of abuse were needed, so our first mental health therapists were hired. In 1988, responding to research and our own recognition that breaking the cycle of violence must include reaching youth, we developed and introduced Project HART (Healthy Alternatives for Relationships among Teens), a violence prevention curriculum, in schools across the metropolitan area. Safe Connections is the only domestic violence/sexual assault counseling agency in St. Louis to be accredited by the Council on Accreditation, due to our best practice standards covering governance, human resources, financial management and program services. We are also a member of the Better Business Bureaus Wise Giving Alliance and maintain a top rating with the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Most Recent Awards and Recognition •Charity Navigator 4 Star Rating, earned in 2015 for meeting national accountability standards. •Better Business Bureau TORCH Award, honoring business ethics and customer service. Awarded by Better Business Bureau St. Louis, September 2014 •Appreciation for Exemplary Support of Volunteers. Awarded by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, April 2014 •What’s Right With The Region! Honoree for Demonstrating Innovative Solutions. Awarded by FOCUS St. Louis, March Safe Connections Advocate 2
2014 •Leadership St. Louis, Safe Connections Executive Director Susan D. Kidder, class of 2013-14 •Certificate of Accreditation, for achieving the highest standards of professional practice for the services we provide. Bestowed by the Council on Accreditation, accredited through April 30, 2017 •Charity Awards Finalist. Presented by the Ladue News, 2009
eatured prominently in the Safe Connections logo, the lotus flower symbolizes purity and rebirth across many different cultures and religions. Lotus flowers are typically found in murky waters, growing from the mud and ultimately rising above the surface of the water as a beautiful bloom. This serves as a symbol for the work Safe Connections does to help survivors rebuild and reclaim their lives after abuse. Safe Connections is a 501(c) (3). We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, citizenship status, national origin,
ancestry, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran status, political affiliation or any other factor protected by law.
afe Connections provides an array of free services for adults who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse. Our staff of master’s level counselors and supervised graduate practicum students offers help to those doing the hard work of rebuilding their lives. Crisis Intervention often begins with our 24-hour Crisis Helpline, the first stop when a person reaches out at a time of crisis. In addition to finding a person who cares about their situation, a caller will find information about resources and swift intervention in the midst of a crisis. Licensed counselors and licensed social workers provide emotional and psychological support through Individual Counseling to help victims rebuild their lives as survivors. Support Services including groups, classes, workshops and social groups help adults learn how to enjoy healthy relationships and connect with others who have walked similar paths. One in four women in college experience sexual assault and/or relationship violence. Safe Connections on Campus is engaged in prevention education and support services at colleges and
Adult Services cont. universities across the St. Louis region. For more information about accessing our Adult Services, call 314.646.7500 x118. Read about Teen Services.
Abuse can come on slowly or suddenly. It can look different for different people. It might start with trying to control you. It might be insulting. It might be physical. It might mean pressure to have sex. It might mean texts a hundred times a day to keep tabs on you. Maybe it means losing your friends. Maybe it means feeling scared and stuck. There is help available, and there are things you can do to protect yourself. Here are just a few: •Know that you are not responsible for the abuse or the violence. Be aware, it will probably happen again and get worse over time. •Find someone you trust who you can talk to. This may be a friend, teacher, counselor, your parents or a hotline person.
A note about the use of pronouns on safeconnections.org. According to the most comprehensive national study by the U.S. Department of Justice on family and relationship violence, the vast majority of domestic violence and sexual assault victims are female, and the vast majority of perpetrators are male. For that reason, feminine pronouns are primarily used on this site when referring to victims of violence, and male pronouns are primarily used when referring to perpetrators of violence. This should not detract from our understanding that, in some cases, the perpetrator might be female while the victim is male or of the same gender. All victims (314.531.2003) are deserving of compassion and •Think of things to do to be services to address the violence safe if your partner begins to in their lives. act violent or abusive. Maybe calling a friend to give you a ride home. Getting to a public locaCounseling and Education for tion. Opening a door or getting Teens to a room where there are other ating can be fun. If you people. fall in love, it can be the It can feel uncomfortable best. The downside: For some standing up for yourself, but of us, what starts as fun or turns being uncomfortable is better to love doesn’t stay. Things can than being abused or ultimately change quickly. Abuse or rape losing your life. Safe Connections happens. offers free one-on-one counsel-
ing and support groups at St. Louis County schools and here at our center in St. Louis City for anyone hurt or struggling with dating violence, sexual assault/ rape or witnessing violence in your home. Visit any of the pages below for details. Find Out if Our Services Are Right for You •Project HART Presentations •Girls Group and Guys Group •Individual Counseling for Teen Girls and Boys •Teen Groups •Safe Connections on Campus •Local Resources, Web Sites and Telephone Numbers
Kara’s Story: Starting Over After Sexual Assault
afe Connections saved my life. It restarted me. I tell everyone about Safe Connections.” After a night out, Kara woke up with no recollection of what happened to her the evening before. She remembered being at a bar before it all went blank. After awhile, the flashbacks started. She was able to piece together that she was drugged and raped. She could recall kicking her attacker in an effort to get away, but not much else. After about a week, Kara decided to go to the police. “At the one station, they were helpful and kind. That officer made the difference and gave me a Safe Connections brochure. I didn’t think I needed counseling, but my friend kept it. That ended up being a really good thing.” “For six months after the Safe Connections Advocate 3
Calendar of Events
10th Annual Together! Brunch Saturday, April 29, 2017 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The Ritz-Carlton
2017 Trivia Night Friday, August 25, 2017 Doors open at 6:30 p.m., Trivia from 7-10 p.m. Immaculate Conception Parish - Maplewood
Lotus Ball 2017 Friday, November 3, 2017 7-11 p.m. St. Louis Union Station Grand Hall Kara’s Story cont. attack, I thought I was coping,” she continued, “But on the inside I could feel myself falling apart. My panic attacks were happening more regularly and getting way more intense. I was crying every day. That went on for about a year. My friend, who keeps everything, pulled that Safe Connections brochure back out, and I started doing my first support group, called Healing Through Art.” Kara was able to pair individual counseling with support groups for her recovery process. “That was just the beginning of a healing process that took me years. I wouldn’t wish the recovery process I went through on
anyone, but for me, it was worth it.” Kara battled depression and dealt with unemployment throughout her years of therapy at Safe Connections. “When my depressive episodes were at their worst, it [therapy] was actually the one thing I usually forced myself to do. I knew it was a gift to myself if I could just get there and accept it.” Kara has learned to become more open is less guarded. She is emotionally equipped to deal with toxic people in her life. Through her therapy work at Safe Connections, she learned self-care and tries to regularly journal or practice yoga. Kara has regained her sense
of self. She has new friends. She has a job she loves, and a better relationship with her parents. “I like to share and be open and reach out now. It’s how I give back for all that Safe Connections did for me.”
Where violence ends and healthy relationships begin!
C on tac t Us Safe Connections
2165 Hampton Avenue St. Louis, Missouri 63139 www.safeconnections.org
24-Hour Crisis Helpline 314.646.7500 Safe Connections Advocate 4
Published on Mar 12, 2018