New Beginnings empowers victims of sexual assault

December 16, 2018 | 3:00 am

Updated December 15, 2018 | 7:34 pm

Terri Crowe is a victim advocate for New Beginnings, a nonprofit that serves, empowers, educates, and advocates for victims of sexual violence. | Photo by AP Imagery

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. And 80 percent of these victims will know their assaulter. For children, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, and 34 percent of child assaulters are related to their victims.

New Beginnings is a place that serves, empowers, educates and advocates for victims of sexual violence in the seven-county Green River Area Development District, including Daviess County. As the regional rape crisis center, New Beginnings provides confidential therapy and support to those who have experienced sexual assault at any point in their lives – from last Friday night to 60 years ago.

“We assist anyone who has been affected,” Victim Advocate Terri Crowe said. That includes the victim, their friends and family – anyone who has been directly or indirectly impacted. No matter the time of day or night, a staff member is always on call to answer the phone and respond to emergency situations.

However, most victims don’t immediately report their experiences, mainly because most victims know their perpetrator. When assault is committed by a stranger, victims are more likely to report instantly.

“People can self-isolate or become blamed by friends or family in terms of responsibility for the assault,” Crowe said. “The first thing that people need to know is that we are here for the duration. We are here for as much or as little as you choose.”

Crowe said victims wanting therapy sessions should call 270-926-7273 to make an appointment.

“We want to empower victims to call us by taking a step out of the victim role to move toward survivorship,” Crowe said. “This is a type of trauma that can be compared to a chronic illness or old sports injury – it doesn’t disappear at a certain age or after certain levels of treatment. People can transcend and become happy, healthy and functional, but there will always be a scar.”

New Beginnings provides more than therapy and counseling services. The organization also assists clients with legal advocacy, provides education about criminal justice, serves as a liaison between law enforcement and the court system and conducts educational prevention programs in local schools and colleges.

Crowe said the community can help by giving time, financial support or donated items. Volunteer opportunities are available in the form of crisis line phone operator, volunteer victim advocate, board member, clerical assistant or other roles. New clothing items for men and women are always needed at New Beginnings.

“When we respond to a call from the emergency room and that person’s clothing is given as evidence, we want to provide that person with a brand new set of clothing,” Crowe said.

Never-before-worn items like yoga pants, jeans, sweatpants, shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, underwear, bras, socks and shoes can help a victim gain confidence and experience comfort after a traumatizing experience. The most urgent volunteer need is for advocates to respond to emergency room calls.

The community is also invited to the organization’s annual fundraising event on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. The fifth annual Casino Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction is Wonderland-themed and will feature a catered meal from Moonlite Bar-B-Que, as well as poker, blackjack and roulette provided by Premier Casino. Reserve your spot and purchase tickets by calling 270-926-7278.

For anyone experiencing the effects of sexual violence, Crowe says, “All you have to do is reach out. No one has to figure out how to deal with this alone.”

December 16, 2018 | 3:00 am

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