The Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) is designed to provide support services to all victims of sexual assault, to reduce the number of sexual assaults, and to increase the number of convictions. These purposes are designed to be accomplished through goals in a three-fold area.
First, the center continues to improve its on-going victim-oriented procedures throughout the entire community and outreach counties. Support services are offered to victims of sexual assault by a trained volunteer during the hospital exam, police investigation and statement giving, and court proceedings. The volunteer also works to enhance empathetic treatment of the victim by law enforcement, medical, and prosecutorial personnel. These personnel participate in our training programs, are members of our Sexual Assault Response Teams, and are represented on our Board of Directors. The Executive Director of the center and representatives of the agencies are in continuous communication to improve treatment of victims and to assist each other with cases, including educational seminars presented by the center to the agencies on a regular basis. The center also provides support groups for adult and adolescents survivors of sexual assault. Individual support counseling by appointment and 24-hour hotline are also provided.
Secondly, the center continues giving speeches to the community, showing public service announcements (PSAs) on television and announcing them on the radio, and participating in community educational seminars. All these help to alter the communities' concepts regarding the crime of sexual assault and its many myths, increase their awareness of sexual assault prevention techniques, increase their awareness of services the center provides, and increase public support for the community wide efforts to financially fund the center's programs. These services will help to reduce the number of sexual assaults.
Thirdly, the center is directed toward improving the criminal justice proceedings in order to increase reporting of the crime, increase investigations for arrest, increase prosecution of sexual assault cases, and increase the number of convictions.
In 1981, several members of the Brazos County District Attorney's Office began to discuss the need for services to victims of sexual assault. Beginning in December of 1981, three individuals, Justice of the Peace Carolyn Hensarling, District Attorney Travis B. Bryan, III, and Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Ruffino, became the incorporators of Brazos County Rape Crisis Center, Inc., a non-profit, private corporation. At its annual meeting in 1982, the incorporating members were elected to the Board of Directors, adopted the by-laws and established polices and procedures for the operation of the organization.
During 1982 and 1983, training of volunteers began. The center opened in October of 1983. Meetings with area law enforcement agencies and more in-depth training programs were set up for all new volunteers which continued from 1984-present, with over 1,000 volunteers having been trained to date. Training sessions are held in February and October and continuous in-service training sessions are held for continuing volunteers, with an annual review a requirement in addition to a screening process in order to be considered an active volunteer.
The center continues to grow. Survivors are contacting the center at an increased rate, including survivors who were sexually assaulted before a rape crisis center existed in Bryan. The Center has opened over 8,500 cases since its opening in 1983, and currently opens approximately 1,000 new cases per year. The Friends of the Family program, a program for 13-17 year old adolescents, continues to be successful in providing child victims of sexual assault all of our support services, which were not available to them before our program.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Diane Jones Meier, President
Beth Milam, Vice President
Lt. Lesley Hicks, Secretary
Alesha Istvan, Treasurer
Sgt. Shane Bush
Lt. Allan Baron
ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
Nancy Bertsch, M.D.
Kristin Clemens, PhD
Sheriff Chris Kirk
Anne Wehrly, PhD
Martha Garcia Opersteny, M.S., Executive Director
Alaina Jalufka, Director of Center Programs
Darin Dorsey, Education and Outreach Specialist
Collin Korthauer, Education and Outreach Specialist
Melissa Shelton, M.A., LPC, Staff Counselor
E.J. Smith, M.S., NCC, LPC-I, Volunteer Coordinator/Staff Counselor