HAZARD —The statistics for sexual abuse in America have changed, but not for the better. Research recently revealed that nearly 48 percent of all women in the United States have been a victim to sexual abuse at some time in their lives. That means almost half of the women you see today have been violated, with some of the cases occurring when the women were children and others happening perhaps within the past year. This statistic is staggering.
Women sometimes refrain from coming forward with accounts of abuse because they are frightened, or ashamed, or they feel helpless in the situation. The victims are not only women. Studies show that one out of every eight men are also victims. Men are even less likely than women to come forward. There is an organization in Hazard that is taking a stand for the victims of sexual assault and they want victims to know that they are not alone in the fight for justice.
The Rising Center on Morton Blvd. in Hazard held open house on April 4 to kickoff Sexual Assault Awareness Month and to help the community become better acquainted with the facility’s mission. According to Holly Combs and Andy Melton of the Rising Center, the open house received a good turnout with great response to the center’s work. Visitors to the Rising Center that day included everyone from local government officials to members of the community, who were simply interested in learning more about the organization’s services.
The Rising Center provides legal and medical advocacy, crisis counseling and long term therapy for victim’s of sexual assault. Those seeking help from the center are provided with a hotline for 24-hour free and confidential telephone counseling and advocacy services for personal support at the hospital and throughout the legal process. Educational workshops for schools or community groups are also available through The Rising Center, as well as specialized training on rape issues for professionals.
The Rising Center has a volunteer program and they are always looking for people with a passion to help others through community service. There are different types of volunteer opportunities through the Rising Center’s Victim Services Program, such as Volunteer Medical Advocate, which responds to crisis calls, Volunteer Legal Advocate, which assists with legal issues, including accompanying victims to hearings and Program Volunteer, which assists staff and helps with events such as health fairs and community engagement efforts.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and The Rising Center encourages people to wear teal in support of the cause. More than anything, the staff of The Rising Center wants victims of sexual assault to know that they are not alone. Whether the assault happened today or years ago, The Rising Center is there and they are ready to help. All of their services are kept strictly confidential and they do not take any action that the victim does not approve.
Now that open house has connected the community with The Rising Center’s mission, the staff hopes more victims will know where they can turn. The 24-hour Crisis and Information Hotline is 1-800-262-7491. More information can also be found at therisingcenter.org. The Rising Center is located at 637 Morton Blvd. in Hazard.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.