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Free Guide Helps Sexual Assault Survivors In Healing And Recovery

Sept. 2, 1999 -- A newly reprinted guide offers free help to sexual assault survivors, their family and friends.

Published by the Sexual Assault Education Office in the University of Virginia Women's Center, the booklet provides guidelines for helping people immediately after an incident as well as throughout recovery. "Handbook for Survivors: A Guide to Surviving Sexual Assault" helps victims and those close to them understand the emotional issues they face and spells out their legal and medical rights.

"The goal in creating the guide is to make sure survivors are fully aware of their rights and have easy access to information that can aid in the healing process," said Claire Kaplan, sexual assault education coordinator at U.Va.

Written in a clear, straightforward manner, the guide begins with step-by-step procedures to follow immediately after a sexual assault. It then describes what survivors will face when going to the emergency room and reporting the assault to police.

Other sections describe survivors' legal rights and the range of behavioral and emotional reactions they will likely experience. The guide also offers a list of agencies and resources that can help survivors.

One section written for U.Va. students points out that alcohol consumption could lead to sexual assault. That section also provides a list of resources for University students.

More than a dozen people in diverse fields ranging from medicine and counseling to law enforcement contributed information for the guide, first published in 1993. Another several dozen people critically read the material to insure a comprehensive, accurate description of services available to area residents, Kaplan said.

Numerous area programs, such as the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, Charlottesville Free Clinic and Department of Social Services, are distributing the guides. At U.Va. several departments, including student health, police and the emergency room, offer the guides.

"We want the book to give people the message that there are many allies, many experts to help them," said Kaplan.

She began assembling the first edition of the handbook eight years ago after establishing U.Va.'s Sexual Assault Education Office and realizing that no comprehensive guide existed to help sexual assault survivors. The guide has proved so helpful that many other campuses nationwide have used it as a model, she said.

Funding for the handbook was provided by U.Va.'s Sexual Assault Education Office, the Parents Program of the U.Va. Fund, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency in Charlottesville and the Virginia departments of Criminal Justice Services and Health.

Copies can be obtained by stopping by or calling U.Va.'s Sexual Assault Education Office. Located within the Women's Center at University Avenue and 14th Street, the office can be reached at (804) 982-2774.

For more information, contact Claire Kaplan at (804) 982-2774.

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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