The SAAFE Center staff and volunteer victim advocates provide crisis intervention, emotional support, medical and legal advocacy, support groups, and information and referrals for sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, and sex trafficking victims.
Services are available free of charge to any Wood County resident or anyone victimized in Wood County. All services are confidential and can be anonymous if the person wishes. The SAAFE Center is dedicated to providing services to diverse populations.
On-going support for the victim is maintained for as long as the client needs this assistance, including attending court appearances, speaking with family members, assisting with job and housing needs, and completing Crime Victim Compensation Fund applications.
A victim does not need to have made a police report, have gone to the hospital, or have engaged in any other services to be eligible for working with a SAAFE advocate. Any time the client identifies the situation as a crisis is the time when advocates are ready to help. The goal of The SAAFE Center is to provide a timely and empathetic response to victims and assist them during their empowerment process from the crisis stage through recovery.
An advocate will stay in contact with the victim following the crisis and offer emotional support for the client to talk about their concerns and/or answer any questions. “Emotional support” is not counseling; it is support for the emotional needs of the client. Emotional support provides the victim with someone to vent to and express any range of emotions the client is feeling. A victim of crime can be working with an advocate and a counselor at the same time. Advocates will refer clients to counselors if the mental health needs of the victim warrant it.
Where can I meet with an advocate?
Advocates meet with victims at the hospital, high school, BGSU, police station, courthouse, The Link, or any other neutral setting. Victims can also call and speak with an advocate at any time of day or night as there is always an advocate on-call. Advocates are reached by calling The Link hotline and asking for a SAAFE advocate.
If a victim is sexually assaulted or severely physically harmed and goes to the Wood County Hospital Emergency Room, a SAAFE advocate will be called to the hospital. The advocate is able to explain the medical procedure if a sexual assault kit is to be performed and answer other medical concerns, such as those about HIV, pregnancy and medication.
If a victim’s case is pursued through the legal system, an advocate can explain court proceedings, including protection orders and what happens at each court hearing, and accompany the victim to court.
The first court hearing to hear the charges is called an arraignment and both misdemeanors and felonies are arraigned in the municipal courts. An advocate can help explain the sometimes confusing aspects of the court system to a victim and their family/friends.
The SAAFE Center offers groups to help educate and provide awareness about sexual assault for survivors and also those who care about them. The groups are run for 4- to 6-weeks and cover topics like sexual assault and the law, healing and recovery, and negative coping techniques. The groups are held in Bowling Green. Being with other survivors helps in normalizing the experience. There is no charge for these educational groups. If you are interested in learning more about these groups call 419/352-1545 (The Link) and ask for a SAAFE advocate.
If The SAAFE Center cannot provide direct services, referrals will be given to another agency for help. The SAAFE Center maintains a wide referral listing to help in many different kinds of situations.
Services are provided regardless of gender or gender expression, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Family members and friends are also provided free services.
Overwhelmingly, sexual assault victims are female and the majority of advocates in the SAAFE Center are also female.
Women of color are encouraged to seek services as we actively recruit other women of color as advocates and all staff/volunteers receive cultural competency training.
Males are also victimized (typically by male perpetrators) and The SAAFE Center has male advocates to specifically work with such clients.
The SAAFE Center staff are intent on providing appropriate services to the LGBT community and are committed to outreach to servce this population.
Older women who are sexually assaulted or harassed are often reluctant to reach out for help. The SAAFE center has mature staff and volunteers who are available to help clients sort out their options.
The SAAFE Center works primarily with adults but also assists adolescents (13 years and older) who have been sexual assaulted or are being sexually harrassed by acquaintances (sexual abuse by family members is referred elsewhere).