Post Classifieds

Addressing sexual violence

By Jonathan Bulthuis
On October 6, 2013

The YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago hosted the forum Addressing Sexual Violence in Immigrant Communities in Engbretson Hall on September 20. GSU students who attended the presentation learned about the YWCA's sexual assault advocate programs, and were asked to challenge cultural norms that ignore widespread incidences of rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Debbie Perry, YWCA Manager for Prevention and Advocacy Service, emphasized the increasing need for sexual assault resources in immigrant communities, particularly in the Latino population Cultural barriers that stress the predominance of private traditional family
communities vastly lower the incidence of reporting of sexual assault.

According to Perry, a large discrepancy exists between the number of sexual assault victims (primarily females) who call rape crisis
hotlines, and the incidence of sexual assault crimes being reported to the police. While one in six females ages 13 or older is raped in the United States, the actual reporting of these crimes is between two and six percent.

"Rape crisis counselors in the state of Illinois are among only three states that retain absolute privilege of information rights", said Perry.

Since confidentiality is so vital to the majority of sexual assault victims, Illinois advocates are bound by law to respect their client's
decisions in divulging information to law enforcement agencies. Non-disclosure provides an atmosphere of protection and trust between advocates and their clients. Advocates fill a variety of roles for victims of sexual assault, including counseling and attending court proceedings.

The YWCA has been involved in sexual assault crisis advocacy in the Chicago area since 1965, with a number of locations in the south suburbs. Advocates from the YWCA are available to assist and counsel victims of sexual assault that are admitted to any of four hospitals in the south suburban area, including Franciscan St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, Franciscan St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields, Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The YWCA also offers counseling programs for adults, children, groups, and people with disabilities, and works in conjunction with the South Suburban Family Shelter, La Rabida Child Advocacy center, and other community centers.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault provides a variety of programs, as well as 29 rape crisis centers, for persons who have been victims of sexual assault.

In the event that someone is the victim of sexual assault, Perry says, "The first step is to go to the emergency room and call the

In the event that victims are ambivalent about going to the hospital, a visit to a clinic or family doctor is vital. Victims are highly
encouraged to contact an advocate for assistance, counseling, and support.

The YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago offers three rape crisis hotlines. The number for the greater Chicago metropolitan area is
888-293-2080. Those in the south suburbs can call 708-748-5672. In Dupage County, victims of sexual assault can call 630-971-3927. All three hotlines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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