(Editor’s Note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is the final in a series of four articles discussing the topic of relationship assault in many forms.)
by Jenniffer WARDELL
LAYTON—The first step to protecting yourself is educating yourself.
If you think you might be experiencing domestic, sexual or intimate partner abuse, Safe Harbor Crisis Center is here to help. Their walk-in Outreach Center in Layton offers a variety of resources for those in need, including information, counseling, safety planning and more.
“There are lots of next steps and that can look different for each person,” said Kristen Floyd, executive director of Safe Harbor. “We practice a trauma informed approach to help the survivor at the level they are at not at the level we think they ‘should be.’”
Though Safe Harbor is best known for their shelter and transitional housing, the group opened their outreach center last year in order to give people a walk-in location. By doing so, the organization hoped to reach a wider range of people who have need of their services.
“They may be away from the abuser and in a safe environment but need counseling services, they may need a protective order because they recently left a situation, or their children are in need of services,” said Floyd. “It was extremely important that we had services for these individuals and not make them feel like they would have to go to a shelter to get help.”
She said that the center served nearly 500 victims of domestic and sexual violence in March alone, though some of those people are duplicate clients who came in for multiple services.
The center has a sexual assault crisis response team, helping victims through the exam and legal process. They also partnered with Intermountain Hospital in Layton and Northern Utah Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (NUSANE) to create the first ever sexual assault room that isn’t part of an emergency room in Davis County.
“No longer do victims have to go to an emergency room and have a very intimate exam done behind a small curtain with someone else right next door to them,” she said. “We’re there to support them during this horrifying experience.”
Other services those victims used are several different types of counseling and walk-in support groups that meet regularly.
“Even if you are not ready to leave or don’t understand the behavior, just talk to someone,” said Floyd. “We have to make it more comfortable to just talk about it.”
The outreach center also focuses on community enrichment, educating the public on the signs of abuse and its prevalence in the community.
“Without the proper education these issues are swept under the rug,” she said. “People don’t know how to deal with them, or don’t understand the severity.”
That education can also help individuals in the community become a resource for abused people. One of the simplest and most powerful ways Floyd said they can help someone who tells us they’re suffering from domestic violence is to believe them. She also recommends that everyone, whether they think they might be suffering from abuse or not, attend a presentation on what abuse is and how to help.
“It can be difficult to know how to help, and even more difficult to seek help,” she said. “But we have to start talking about services and being supportive of each other.”
For more information about any of the outreach center’s resources, call Safe Harbor’s crisis line at 801-444-9161.