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Sexual Assault Recovery Program seeks volunteers

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
February 6, 2012
— It’s 3 a.m. when the call comes in to Mary Beth Grice.

A crisis hotline volunteer for the Sexual Assault Recovery Program, she learns a 16-year-old rape victim has just arrived at the emergency room of a local hospital.


Grice immediately heads to the hospital to meet with the victim.


During the next three hours, Grice will offer support—listening to the victim’s story and walking her through the medical and legal processes. This includes sitting with the victim while the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Kit exam is administered.


“I’ll hold their hands and be there while they’re having to undergo more questions from the police,’’ Grice said.


The Sexual Assault Recovery Program, or SARP, provides crisis intervention and support to sex assault victims and their families.


Grice, 43, of Janesville became a SARP volunteer in 2006. She initially sought information about the program to better facilitate a different support group for sexually wounded women.


Armed with a passion for helping others, Grice jumped right in. She now volunteers for two 12-hour weekly shifts on its crisis hotline.


But her story goes deeper than that.


“I had the misfortune of keeping my sexual abuse secret for 12 years,’’ she said.


During that time, Grice did


not have anyone to tell her the abuse she suffered wasn’t her fault, that it wasn’t right or that it was against the law. She spent years working through a life filled with false shame and false guilt.


“Since I’ve told (my story), I’ve had people tell me through counseling and a support group that it wasn’t my fault, there is no shame, there is no guilt,” she said.


“I want to be that person to tell the next victim that it’s not her fault, there is no shame and no guilt … And there’s help to help you process all the emotions you will go through from anger to denial, shame and guilt.’’


Mandi Bordner, volunteer and outreach coordinator for SARP in Rock County, said the program has 18 volunteers in Rock County, but it is always looking for more.


“You can never have too many,” she said. “We are looking for people over 18 who are passionate about helping survivors and hoping to shed light on the importance of this issue.”


What is SARP?

The Sexual Assault Recovery Program is the state-recognized sexual assault service provider for Rock, Green and Lafayette counties. It assists and advocates for victims by providing crisis intervention and support to families and survivors of all forms of sexual violence including rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape.


Confidential services are offered in both Spanish and English and include support through a 24-hour crisis hotline. On-call volunteer advocates also respond to the emergency room and support victims with medical and legal advocacy. The program also provides support groups and community education.


Call SARP’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-866-666-4576 if you have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused. For more information, visit sarpwi.com, call (608) 365-1244 or email abordner@ sarpwi.com.

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