RICHMOND, Va. - If a sexual assaulted victim ends up at the emergency room of a Richmond area hospital, chances are the hospital will call a victim advocate affiliated with The Regional Hospital Accompaniment Response Team to help that victim.
Thanks to William Downey, the 80th Training Command Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program manager, RHART advocates now know that they have the option to refer sexual assault victims who are service members to their unit SHARP offices.
Diane Lowman, the director of counseling and advocacy at Safe Harbor, a domestic and sexual violence resource center in Henrico, said she learned about DoD's SHARP for the first time during Downey's presentation at the Glen Allen Library.
"I didn't know that there was a whole organization available," she said. "When we do that RHART call we'll be able to say, 'you know you have those folks [at your unit] that you can call."
RHART, made up mostly of volunteers, provide 24-hour a day response to survivors of violence and or sexual assault inflicted by intimate partners. The YWCA also operates a 24-hour hotline in partnership with five different domestic and sexual violence service providers in the Richmond area. Ryan Morris, the YWCA of Richmond director of advocacy and outreach, who invited Downey to the event, said victims, and individuals looking to help a victims, can also call.
Downey said, his office is working to have the 80th TC's subordinate commands adopt the effort currently initiated at the command headquarters in Richmond.
"The more communication we have between our organizations the better it'll be for our survivors," Downey said.