In 1973, Fresno State Women’s Studies students Karen Hale and Kris Schaulfelberger started Rape Counseling Services of Fresno (“RCS”) as a student project in a course taught by Floy Paynter. Their shared idea was to answer a telephone 24 hours a day in Fresno County so that sexual violence survivors could tell their stories and receive help.
There was an unmet community need for a local 24-hour rape crisis line in Fresno County. In 1974, RCS was incorporated as a nonprofit rape crisis center. By 1980, RCS was one of 29 rape crisis centers across California and part of a growing national movement. In California, a State Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Victim Services formed and established professional training standards for rape crisis advocates. Soon after, in 1983, California Evidence Code 1035.2 was enacted to protect the confidentiality of statements made by rape survivors to rape crisis advocates.
After more than 40 years, RCS advocates continue to answer the 24-hour rape crisis line in Fresno County [559-222-7273]. In the United States, twenty percent to a third of all women and sixteen percent of men are traumatized by sexual violence during their lifetimes. Receiving help for injuries from sexual violence can reduce risk for long-term post-traumatic stress, chemical dependency, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and a range of other health impairments. Because shame and social pressure stops most survivors from sharing their story, confidentiality is essential for sexual violence survivors considering whether to ask for help.
RCS advocates provide confidential help to sexual violence survivors that is trauma-informed and culturally competent. We listen and respond to requests for information without judgment. We personally accompany sexual violence survivors to sexual assault forensic exams under Penal Code 264.2(b)(1). Upon request, we accompany survivors to law enforcement interviews or court proceedings. We provide therapy and supportive service referrals and other help to all sexual violence survivors in Fresno County.
RCS also provides rape prevention education and training to other professionals. We help facilitate the monthly Sexual Assault Response (SART) meetings for Fresno County. We also serve as caucus representative for all Penal Code 13837 rape crisis programs in the Central Valley region on the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CalCASA) Sexual Assault Program Services Committee.
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