SAAS provides counseling for rape victims

By Laura L. Hayes

Rape victims who want to get help confidentially can do so through a DeKalb sexual abuse service.

Sexual Assault and Abuse Services (SAAS) is a program which helps rape victims, answers their questions and concerns and provides 24-hour confidential support, said program coordinator Lynda O’Brien.

Victims will find understanding people that want to help them and that realize the rape is not the victim’s fault. “There is absolutely nothing that anyone could have done to deserve to be raped,” O’Brien said.

Prevention Education Services Director Kris Povlsen said the service also provides support for counseling and for legal action.

“We provide services to help begin the healing process,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to give something to the community and it makes the community a better place to live.”

A volunteer who asked to not be identified said community members who want to do their part to help can find great rewards in volunteering at SAAS.

She said, “Being able to help the people is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering.”

“If emotional victims are able to smile and have more confidence in themselves when they leave, that’s what gives volunteering its importance,” she said.

O’Brien agreed that volunteering is necessary for the service to run effectively.

“It’s important for us to contribute to helping people. It’s society’s problem and we all need to work together to have a positive society,” she said.

SAAS volunteers must complete a 40-hour training session for a six-day period. The training session teaches volunteers the laws, the court system, how to be advocates and how to work within the system, Povlsen said.

Volunteers also do role-playing and have a chance to practice the support system, he added.