Over the past few months, thousands of people have shared their stories of being sexually assaulted as part of the #MeToo movement.
In Central Georgia, many of those victims turn to Crisis Line & Safe House for help.
Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese says the last thing he wants is to cause more trauma for victims seeking medical attention.
“The last thing that we want to do is take them [rape kits] for law enforcement purposes and victimize them again,” Deese said. “That’s very easy to do on the exams that they have to do. If you have someone who is doing the exam and they’re not trained to do it and they’re having to read the instructions.”
Deese says that’s not the case anymore since Crisis Line & Safe House is opening a new facility in Warner Robins.
Dee Simms is the executive director of the agency and says the new location expands its services beyond advocacy and counseling.
“This gives us that ability to provide that full [range] of services,” Simms said. “A competent forensic exam by someone who’s trained and dedicated to this. Service advocates that are trained to help reduce trauma, and then our counselors. It brings us full service.”
Simms says the facility is home to the first exam room of its kind in the region; it’s dedicated solely to sexual assault victims.
A trained forensic nurse uses the room to complete rape kits on victims of assault, and then those kits are sent to law enforcement for testing.
“We will do them on a regular basis and we will be able to devote the time that is necessary to collect all the evidence, and make the victim [as] comfortable as possible,” Simms said.
Deese says this facility is a much-needed resource for sexual assault victims in Central Georgia.
“When a victim comes in here, they are the priority. It’s just a great environment to have this place and have it available to us,” Deese said.
Simms says their facility in Macon will soon have an exam room too.
Victims of sexual assault or domestic violence can call the crisis line 24 hours a day at 478-745-9292.