Assault support line seeking volunteers

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Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services is looking for volunteer advocates to respond to its 24 hour crisis and support line and make a difference in the lives of people affected by sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, stalking or sexual harassment.

Volunteer advocates listen and provide support, information and referrals to people calling for assistance. Calls can require supporting someone through a difficult memory of childhood sexual abuse, providing support and education about available resources, or accompanying a caller to a local hospital, police station or courthouse when the survivor chooses to use these resources.

Volunteer advocates receive extensive training and support to prepare them for effectively responding to callers. The training provides insight and information in the areas of sexual harassment, stalking, child sexual abuse, sexual assault and the challenges faced by survivors and their supporters. Volunteers are taught the various options and resources available for survivors of all ages in our communities and learn crisis intervention and advocacy skills through training and role-play scenarios with special emphasis placed on the importance of self-care.

Volunteer advocates carry a pager during their on-call shifts, allowing them to be on call from their homes and choose from a variety of scheduling options. A stipend is available for volunteer advocates who cover evening, weekend and holiday shifts.

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Volunteer advocates must be over the age of 18, empathetic and dependable with access to reliable transportation. All potential volunteers must complete the training and a screening process which includes criminal and DHHS background checks. No prior experience is necessary.

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services is the new name of the agency providing sexual assault related services throughout Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties. In October of 2011, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Androscoggin County, the Rape Education and Crisis Hotline of Oxford County and the Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services of Franklin County merged to become one agency. The new agency is maintaining the staff, offices and services of SACC, REACH and SAVES, and sexual assault services may continue to be known by those names in their local communities

In addition to its 24 hour response line, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services offers accompaniment to local hospitals, law enforcement and court proceedings; individual advocacy; and support groups. It also provides prevention education to local schools on a variety of topics including Internet/technology safety, healthy relationships, sexual assault and sexual abuse prevention.

A new training session for volunteer advocates is scheduled to begin soon. Meetings will be held on Monday evenings and some Saturdays. To learn more about becoming a volunteer advocate in Androscoggin County, contact Sarah L. Wood at 784-5272, ext. 104. For more information about providing support in the communities in Oxford County and the towns of Harrison and Bridgton, contact Stephanie Leblond at 743-9777, ext. 1. The deadline to sign up for training to become a volunteer advocate is Friday, Feb. 17.

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