Closer Look: RAINN’s Victim Services Programs

In honor of RAINN’s 25th anniversary, each month we’ll be taking a closer look at the people and programs that are essential in our work to help survivors today and every day. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on RAINN’s victim services team.

Many people first hear about RAINN because of the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The free, anonymous, confidential, 24/7 telephone hotline is central to the work we do every day at RAINN, but our victim services team is also busy helping survivors in many other ways, such as running 26 additional hotlines for other organizations and creating the web's first online hotline.

“Though some people are more comfortable talking on the phone, the online hotline has been helpful in reaching younger populations. Instant messaging can often feel more private, which can provide our visitors with a great sense of control,” says Keeli Sorensen, vice president of victim services. “If the perpetrator is in the other room, you can privately chat with a hotline support specialist and develop a safety plan.”

RAINN also created the Helproom, a safe, anonymous, moderated online forum for survivors to share their experiences with each other while they wait to connect with a hotline support specialist. “Folks are looking for ways to get support, and be a source of support for other survivors. They’re looking for spaces where they can share their story and relate to others who are going through the similar things,” says Jessica Leslie, National Sexual Assault Hotline program director.

As RAINN’s reputation grew for providing quality services to survivors of sexual violence, other organizations started approaching RAINN to operate dedicated hotlines for their constituents. “RAINN has vast experience helping all types of survivors, so organizations can be confident in the help that their constituents will receive. We can provide anonymity to callers who don’t want their employer or school to know what happened,” says Sorensen.

Since 2011, RAINN has operated the DoD Safe Helpline for members of the U.S. military and DoD community who have been affected by sexual assault. RAINN runs the 24/7 service through a contract with the Department of Defense. Survivors are guaranteed anonymity, and no personally-identifying information is shared with DoD.

Other hotline partners include federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; boarding schools such as Choate; and SafeSport, which was launched by the US Olympic Committee to help young athletes who have experienced abuse. Altogether, RAINN’s victim service programs have helped more than three million survivors and their loved ones.

For those survivors who need help in their community or require longer-term services, RAINN partners with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country.

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