Sexual assault victims coming forward, will have support in place
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Victims afraid of coming forward with sexual assault allegations will now have a program in place to add more support during the legal process.
Pathways to Healing provides access to advocates to work alongside law enforcement officers when victims first file a report of sexual assault.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott partnered with Pathways to Healing and has made it a part of the Victims Services Unit.
The program introduces coping mechanisms like grounding and breathing techniques for victims and gives victims an advocate to accompany them if their report does go to trial.
Pathways to Healing Director, Rebecca Lorick says it can be difficult for victims to come forward, and sometimes it can take up to 20 years. She, herself, is a victim and personally knows what it is like to not be believed.
“I was assaulted at 11 years old by someone who was very close to me, and that’s often what happens. It’s someone you know very well,”
According to Pathways to Healing Director of Advocacy Marie Sazehn, there is no time limit for a victim to come forward.
“We serve survivors no matter when it happens. We can still provide those services and guide them through criminal cases if they decide to report,” Sazehn said.
Sister Care is another program already in place, which provides shelter for victims in domestic assault situations.
Adding Pathways to Healing puts all of these resources in one place.
“It’s an amazing marriage of services,” Heidi Jackson of Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.
There is a 24-hour hotline ready to help survivors and family members. Call the Pathways to Healing hotline at 803-771-7273, if you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault.
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