April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, also referred to as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Across the nation, there are charities and organizations that help assault survivors and their loved ones in myriad ways, from educating the general public to offering mental-health services, legal resources, and financial aid directly to survivors.
Tatiana Garcia is a licensed professional counselor based in New Jersey who has provided trauma therapy to children and adults who have survived sexual violence. Garcia spoke to INSIDER about a few organizations and programs that she said have been helpful to survivors she has worked with.
It’s worth noting that there are hundreds if not thousands of government organizations and private nonprofits that work to support survivors or to prevent sexual violence, which is to say, there are far too many to list.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse or you want to learn more about how you can support survivors, learning about these programs and organizations can be a useful place to start.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) provides helpful informational resources
NCTSN is an organization made up of mental healthcare providers, researchers, and other advocates whose mission is to “raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events,” according to its website.
The organization provides information and training to those who work with vulnerable populations in schools, healthcare, the justice system, and more, in order to enable them to provide trauma-informed care to those who have been affected by all sorts of violence, including sexual violence.
“The National Child Traumatic Stress Network is an excellent resource that I have used with educational print-outs, trainings, articles, and resources in both English and Spanish,” Garcia said. She said educational materials can impact individual survivors in very meaningful ways.
“The most helpful tool has been providing education about how people respond to trauma,” Garcia told INSIDER. “Although everybody responds differently, it can be helpful for people to hear the facts and also other people’s stories. It helps them to understand that there is nothing wrong with them – the way they are responding is a normal human reaction to going through a traumatic experience and recovery is possible.”
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, is a large organization that offers numerous kinds of support to survivors
Garcia also said RAINN is a helpful provider of educational resources for survivors, their loved ones, and those who may work with them in therapy or other environments.
RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the US and, in addition to its informational materials, it offers a number of other services, including a hotline for individuals to find the specific help they need.
“RAINN has a National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline that is confidential and individuals can contact [it] for emotional support and local resources,” Garcia said. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673.
Andrea Pagano-Reyes, RAINN’s vice president of development, said that contributions to the organization can go a long way in helping survivors, especially during the month of April.
“95 cents of every dollar goes directly to funding programs and services for survivors,” Pagano-Reyes said. She noted that donations allow “an average of 833 survivors to receive help through RAINN’s victim services programs each day.”
She also said that donations made during April, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, will be matched.
At the state level, there are Victim Compensation programs to aid those who have experienced violence
Among other things, the aftermath of assault or other traumatic events can include steep costs for medical care and counseling. State governments offer compensation programs that aim to help directly offset these expenses that survivors of all sorts of violence and abuse often face.
“In the United States, each state has a Victim Compensation office that will provide financial [assistance], counseling, and other compensation for victims of violent crime,” Garcia said.
You can find a directory of each state’s program here.
For those in New York City, Safe Horizon offers a broad spectrum of help ranging from therapeutic to legal resources
Garcia, who is based in northern New Jersey, has found this NYC-based organization to be helpful to her local clients.
“Safe Horizon is a non-profit organization local to New York City that provides trauma therapy, legal services, resources, and hotlines,” Garcia told INSIDER.
If you’re not based in the NYC area and are seeking state or local resources ranging from shelters to advocacy projects in your own region, a national organization like RAINN may be able to help you locate them.
Another national organization you should know about is the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
NSVRC works at a more macro level, conducting and interpreting research for various administrations and organizations to help them better work with survivors. It also maintains a directory of other state and regional organizations that offer direct services to survivors.
Its website is full of statistics and information pertaining to sexual violence and its directory is a useful tool for finding organizations that serve specific niches, from LGBTQ groups to on-campus advocacy programs.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.