The Savannah Rape Crisis Center provides support and information to victims of rape and child sexual abuse and their families. The center also offers community education and sexual-assault-prevention programs for all ages. These services were available to Liberty residents through a satellite office in Hinesville.
Hard budget times have hit everyone, and the rape crisis center certainly is no exception. But even though tough financial times forced the closure of the satellite office here, the center still is more than willing to help area residents in need of services, and they want potential clients in Hinesville and the surrounding region to know that they’re still here.
“We would love to do more in Liberty County,” Savannah Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Kesha Gibson-Carter said. “There is a need in the community, and we are filling the need as much as we can with limited resources.”
The center is supported by the city of Savannah, United Way of the Coastal Empire, the state of Georgia and 5 percent from program fees. After three years in operation, the Liberty County satellite office closed when the rape crisis center lost a grant that funded the outfit, according to Gibson-Carter.
“When we lost the funding, we had to dissolve the satellite office,” she said. “We are continuing to provide services to Liberty County; however, it is minimal in terms of what we have provided in the past due to this lack of funding.”
Although, the RCC cannot provide physical outreach to the county anymore, services continuously are extended to Liberty when victims from the area contact the center’s Savannah office. The center still offers counseling, court assistance, support groups and community-education services. It also offers prevention programs, which include self-defense, good touch/bad touch differentiation and sexual-harassment classes for elementary students.
In 2012, about 200 residents participated in Rape Crisis Center prevention programs in Liberty County. More than 150 students participated in the child-sexual abuse classes in the Liberty County Head Start program, and about 10 elementary- and middle-school-age students participated in the anti-bullying program at the Fort Stewart Youth Services.
“Liberty County victims have the opportunity to receive counseling along with the information that we give as far as our services,” Gibson-Carter said. “We want to increase our services because the need is so great.”
The RCC plans to host a series of fundraisers to build up funds to provide more services. They will host a garden party, called “Guitars in the Garden,” on Oct. 20. The event will raise awareness for sexual assault and molestation among men and boys.
“There is a national campaign called ‘One Blue String,’” Gibson-Carter explained. “That campaigned raises awareness of the fact that one in six men and boys are survivors of sexual abuse or molestation in their lifetime.”
The RCC also will start offering self-defense classes four times a year for mothers and daughters who are going off to college.
“These are just a few or the programs and services we extend to the Liberty County community,” Gibson-Carter said. “It all depends on support, outreach and funding.”
The center also offered a sexual-assault-prevention program at Snelson-Golden middle school in Hinesville last week.
“There is definitely a need for a rape-crisis center, and we want to help as much as possible,” Gibson-Carter said. “We are here and still providing services to Liberty County.”
For more information about the center, go to www.rccsav.org.