Maryland advocates for sexual-assault survivors have taken to social media to remind the public that help is available, even during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You need to know that all the rape crisis centers across Maryland are open and ready to help you,” said Lisae Jordan, executive director and counsel for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Survivors often weigh a number of concerns before asking for help, and Jordan said those concerns have been compounded by the pandemic.
“Maybe you would have had your mom drive you to the hospital, but now your mom’s over 65, and you don’t want to expose her to the virus,” she said.
But another issue, she said, prompted advocates to do some outreach and let people know services are still available.
“We found that one of the challenges was that people thought we weren’t there anymore,” Jordan said.
When survivors call any of the rape crisis centers across Maryland, they’ll get “trained professional advocates who can really support you and talk you through your options,” so that survivors can get the information they need.
Like many people, Jordan said, advocates are working from home, providing hotline services and telehealth, but “when we need to be with someone in person, that’s also happening,” with protocols in place to protect not only survivors but also the staff and volunteers serving them.
Just as businesses and government buildings have changed the way people interact in their spaces to protect against the virus, medical facilities have done the same.
Jordan said some hospitals, such as Shady Grove, have done things like provide different entrances for survivors of rape and sexual assault, both for privacy and to cut the risk of coronavirus exposure.
She explained not all hospitals perform sexual assault forensic exams, but that MCASA has a list of hospitals that provide them.
“Things have changed for everybody — there’s no question about it,” said Jordan, but “we are here for you; and, “We are ready to help.”
For information on MCASA:
- In Montgomery County, visit the county’s website.
- In Prince George’s County, visit the University of Maryland Medical System website.
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