June 16, 2010 – (Washington, DC) – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, announces the much anticipated upgrade of the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE), which has helped more than 1.4 million callers since its establishment in 1994. The improved hotline provides enhanced support to victims of sexual assault, and features new main menu options recorded by RAINN’s national spokesperson, actress Christina Ricci. For the first time, the menu options are available in both Spanish and English. In addition, the hotline now incorporates easy-to-use, technologically sophisticated options for cell phone callers through an advanced routing system.
According to Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN, “We are using the latest technology to meet the unique needs of victims. In partnership with local rape crisis centers across the country, the improved hotline provides victims the help they deserve. This upgrade continues RAINN’s commitment to using the most up-to-date technology that will best help victims recover from sexual assault and incest.”
Every caller will now be greeted by the familiar voice of RAINN spokesperson Ricci. “Every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted. By improving and adding features to the hotline, RAINN is providing immense support to victims who desperately need help,” said Ricci. “RAINN’s goal is to help as many victims as possible. Improving service to cell phone users and providing a Spanish-language menu are fantastic ways to do that.”
Since its inception in 1994, RAINN has been a technology pioneer. The National Sexual Assault Hotline was the first-ever decentralized national hotline, partnering with rape treatment centers across the U.S. to provide community-level help through a single national number. RAINN later created the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, the first secure web-based hotline service. The Online Hotline won the Technology Innovation Award from NPower and Accenture for being the best use of technology by a nonprofit. It provides instant-message style crisis support to victims via the Internet.
“We are continuing to make it as simple as possible for victims to get help, whether it is online, on a cell phone, or on a landline,” said Berkowitz. “When we launched the hotline in 1994, there were just over 24 million cell phone users. Now there are more than 285 million. It is imperative that we continue to utilize the best technology available to help victims.”
With these latest major upgrades, an advanced routing system is able to connect all callers to their nearest rape treatment center, regardless of whether they are calling from a cell phone or landline. Recognizing that cell phone users are not always calling from where their area code indicates, RAINN updated the system to have the capacity to detect cell phone users and give those callers the ability to choose to contact a rape crisis center close to where they are calling from. Landline calls are still routed to the nearest rape crisis center based on the first six digits of the caller’s phone number.
In addition to providing support to victims of sexual assault, the National Sexual Assault Hotline provides information about recovery, medical issues, the criminal justice process, and local resources for family and friends of victims. Moreover, victims who call the hotline or utilize RAINN’s Online Hotline not only receive valuable information and moral support, they are also more likely to report the crime to police.
RAINN worked with its Program Advisory Board and its 1,100 affiliated rape crisis centers in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico, to improve the new National Sexual Assault Hotline.
More information about the National Sexual Assault Hotlines, as well as how you can join RAINN in the fight against sexual assault, is available at www.rainn.org.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and rainn.org) in partnership with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. The hotlines have helped more than 1.2 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.