Volunteers Help Sexual Assault Victims

Created: 02/09/2014 10:51 PM
By: Sean Boswell

(ABC 6 News) --- According to One-in-Four, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of rape, about 28 women are sexually assaulted every hour, and about one in four women on college campuses will survive a sexual assault in their lifetime. It's numbers like those that have prompted people to step up, both nationally and in Southeastern Minnesota.

Sexual assaults are a growing issue on college campuses, and it's gotten to the point where President Obama has created a task force to help solve the problem.

A lot of people can't stomach to do the job that some local volunteers are doing in Rochester, picking up a phone and being the first person to hear sexual assault victim’s voices after or during the assault.

"They thought that they could trust each other," said sexual assault volunteer Erika Hernandez.

Hernandez is speaking about a young girl who was raped by her boyfriend.

"I think it's good for them to kind of have somebody there that they can talk to," said Hernandez.

It often comes as a surprise, as sexual assaults are often perceived as people who are strangers, people unknown to the victims. In some cases, that couldn't be further from the truth.

"I would say probably 80 to 90 percent of my calls to the ER, the victim knew the assailant in some way," said volunteer Janelle Rosin.

Trips to the ER for the volunteers usually mean the victim has been penetrated. Luckily for one young girl, Rosin was a phone call away. She sat on the phone with her as the girl fled her boyfriend’s home in fear of what he might do.

"I stayed on the phone with her until she got out of the house, which he followed her and followed her for a while in her car and then eventually she got home and I knew she was with her parents," said Rosin.

Volunteers are available for support, and can help lead victims to the resources they may need. Hernandez has had to visit the ER with victims twice, unfortunately for two repeat victims.

"It just seems like it's more of a traumatizing experience because they have to re-live something they already thought that they were kind of getting over," said Hernandez.

A big thing the volunteers want to get across is that it's okay to say “no.” They say help is a phone call away, and it's better to be safe than sorry, so don't be afraid to call for help.

Victim services are looking for more volunteers to fill out their calendar. Currently, there is training going on. You can help one day per month or more if you'd like to sign up and take the training.

The phone number for victim services is (507) 289-0636.

Volunteers help sexual assault victims and survivors.