Local nonprofit seeking donations for assault survivors

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Karris Harmon

A local sexual assault crisis center needs help ensuring its patients get assistance in their time of need, but it’s also responsible for ensuring those patients can head back home in a dignified manner.

The Tuscaloosa SAFE Center is a 24/7 nonprofit crisis center that offers services including forensic examinations and assault reporting services, medical advocacy, counseling and support groups, and community resources. One major thing those who have been assaulted need that you might not have considered? Clothes, and especially pants, said SAFE Center Outreach Coordinator Nicole Hall.

“One thing that a lot of people don’t realize when they come here is that sometimes the nurses have to collect things for evidence,” Hall said. “They take pants, underwear, shirts, anything that may have possible evidence.”

Leaving their clothes behind can be traumatic, Hall said, and many come to the center with just the clothes on their backs.

“The last thing we want is for a survivor to walk out without having (clothes),” she said. “So we try to make sure that we have everything here at the center for them.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, about 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing sexual assault. But many people who experience sexual assault will never report it.

“Statistically, about 1 in 4 women will experience assault in their lifetime and only a very small smidgen of people actually come in to report their assault, so hopefully stuff like this will also let survivors know there is hope and there is support for them,” said Hall. “Even if they don’t want to come to report initially, we have services like counseling that maybe they will need afterward in their process of healing.”

One of the major reasons people don’t come forward is because they fear their stories won’t be believed. But Hall said won’t happen at the SAFE Center.

“We 100% hope that women and men who have experienced assault can come here and feel comfortable and know that we believe them and there is support here for them,” said Hall. “At the end of the day, no one should ever experience (assault), so we can at least give them some kind of external support.”

The Tuscaloosa SAFE Center is also seeking donations of items including water, snacks, men’s and women’s underwear and T-shirts. Donations can be dropped off at 1601 University Blvd. E., Suite 150 in Tuscaloosa.

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