The Sexual Violence Center (SVC), an independent nonprofit organization that provides services to victims of sexual violence and their friends and families, has moved their office to 3757 Fremont Avenue N. SVC provides 24-hour crisis phone service, individual counseling (8-10 sessions), support groups, advocacy and legal clinics at no cost to the victim. Advocacy for victims and friends includes providing support during the evidentiary exam, while filing a police report and during court hearings. Advocates also assist victims with filing for crime victim reparations and working with social service agencies or schools.
Free and confidential services are available to people ages 12 and up. SVC also works with family members and friends of younger victims. The Center has four paid staff and over 45 volunteers. The 24-hour crisis line number is 612-871-5111.
SVC also delivers prevention education through community education and professional training efforts and works with community systems that assist sexual assault victims. SVC has provided prevention education in schools, as well as training police personnel, prosecutors, other similar service providers and medical personnel. Anyone interested in a speaker can call SVC at 871-5100. In addition, the staff attends many community notification meetings, in cooperation with John Hinchcliff from the Minneapolis Police Department.
The SVC was founded in 1985, and is funded by Federal, State and Hennepin, Scott and Carver County governments. In addition, funding is also received from foundations, corporations, communities of faith and individual donors. Executive Director Gail Emerson says North Minneapolis has been an underserved community, which is why the organization decided to locate its new offices here.
A major goal of the organization is to get people talking about the issue of sexual violence. Talking about sexual violence is difficult for most people, Emerson says. But the issue has to be discussed in order to change attitudes and henceforth behavior. Statistics from the FBI and other agencies show that one in four girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse before age 18. With numbers like this, Emerson says, it’s no wonder that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sees sexual assault as an epidemic and a very serious public health issue.
All hospitals in the Twin Cities area now have specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners, who do the evidentiary exam at the hospital. Even five years ago, there were none of these specialists in Carver and Scott County.
SVC volunteers are required by the State of Minnesota to receive at least 40 hours of training to qualify as a crisis line counselor. Additional training is required for volunteers to provide individual counseling, advocacy and to facilitate support groups. Volunteers receive “judicial privilege” in return for complying with training requirements which means they cannot be subpoenaed if the client’s case goes to trial.
Anyone interested in receiving this training and becoming a volunteer should contact Jude Foster at 612-871-5100, extension 15. The next training begins September 8. Other administrative volunteers are also needed to perform office work and building and grounds maintenance.
The SVC will hold a fund raising educational event on October 15 at the Metropolitan Ballroom (394 and Xenia/Park Place exit) in Golden Valley from 7-8 a.m. Free breakfast will be provided. Nancy Biele, a founder of SVC, will be the keynote speaker.
The Sexual Violence Center office is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments for individual counseling are recommended to be sure that a counselor is available. All other services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.