SAVA: Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center
“I feel like I finally know who I am. Like I’ve grown wings.”
This is what one of the s (SAVA) clients had to say about the help they received. SAVA is a Colorado-based organization that focuses on crisis intervention, advocacy and counseling for people who have been affected by sexual violence. They provide support by offering prevention programs through community outreach and education. According to their website,
“Each year, SAVA provides confidential support to over 600 victims of sexual assault and provides education to over 1,000 community members and 4,000 students.”
They are the only rape crisis center in Larimer and Weld Counties. In this post we will dig in and discuss the various support services and prevention programs they offer.
SAVA provides support to those who have been sexually assaulted and to their loved ones. One of the organization’s main goals is to teach victims that it is not their fault if they were sexually assaulted. SAVA provides education, empowerment and confidential support that can make a world of difference in the lives of those impacted by sexual violence. One SAVA client proclaimed,
“Thanks for holding my hope while I couldn’t. I think I’m ready to hold it for myself.” Another client said, “After my abuse that happened when I was a little boy, I grew up seeing so many things negatively. It affected my life immensely, as well as my family, and my friends. SAVA has been instrumental in turning it all around. There’s a lot more sunny days now thanks to their patience with me.”
Their Support Services include:
24-Hour Rape Crisis Hotline: Call (970) 472-4200 or (877) 352-7273 at any time to get help. Confidential support is provided by trained advocates free of charge for all survivors and their loved ones.
Individual Advocacy: Medical and legal support available on an individual basis.
Therapy: Those who have been affected by sexual assault can receive sliding scale and confidential therapy.
Support Groups: Those who were sexually assaulted or their loved ones can participate in weekly support groups.
There are two specific types of support categories:
Direct/Primary Victim Services: SAVA offers accessible, inclusive therapy and support services to sexual violence victims no matter their income, gender, sexual orientation, etc. According to their website, “SAVA provides help for individuals ages 14 and up who have experienced rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, exposure, or voyeurism.” These individuals have access to crisis intervention, victim advocacy (legal and medical), clinical therapy and private support groups. This support is available whether they were recently abused or if the abuse happened years ago. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, services are offered free of charge or on a sliding-scale fee basis.
A SAVA client explained what the organization has done for them, “I think the thing SAVA and its amazing people have helped me the most with is the ability to change the internal dialogue about myself and about the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. When thoughts creep into my head that I’m unlovable, broken, or undeserving, all I have to do is think about all the effort I have put into my healing and all the care, support, and knowledge I have received from SAVA, and I know without a doubt that those thoughts are not true. SAVA helped me to believe that I deserve joy, happiness, and support from all the good people in my life.”
Secondary Survivors: If you have a loved one who has been sexually assaulted, it can be very hard to know how to help them and how to handle the feelings you experience. The SAVA website discusses the many feelings you might be experiencing like guilt, shame and helplessness. They offer tips and coaching on how to effectively support your loved one. The SAVA website encourages secondary victims to listen patiently, believe what the victim is telling you and show support by being reassuring and helping them get professional assistance.
SAVA has three core prevention programs: SuperWorld Empowerment Running Program, Speak Up! for middle school groups, and Sexual Assault Resource Team Peer Education.
SuperWorld Empowerment Running Program: “The SuperWorld Empowerment Running programs provide girls and boys ages 8-12 with developmentally appropriate and gender-specific sessions to support self-esteem, healthy relationships and social action while training to complete a 5K (3.1 mile) running event.” Each boy and girl is paired with an adult volunteer mentor who supports them throughout the program and the race.
Speak Up!: 8th grade students in middle schools in Poudre School District in Fort Collins and Thompson School District in Loveland have access to this program. Speak Up! includes discussions, art projects, writing activities, movie clips and experiential games. All 8th grade students within these schools watch a presentation about gender violence and how to prevent it at the beginning of the school year. Students can then join the group to participate in gender-specific sessions on a weekly basis with parent permission. Tanner, a Speak up! participant said,
“What I like about this class is how we can talk about stuff that we can’t in class and that it makes me feel comfortable to talk about what is going on in my life. I can use what this class teaches me in the future by talking more openly with people and it teaches me how to help people.”
Another participant said,
“It’s amazing. I love knowing once a week I can come talk to anyone and the things we talk about stay in here.”
SART Peers: “Sexual Assault Resource Team is a peer-led education program created specifically for middle and high school students. The SART Program’s mission is to reduce the incidence of sexual violence among youth through peer education and community support.” Participants are able to discuss topics like the roots of violence and oppression, sexism and gender stereotypes during community presentations. These student-led classes teach participants how to support victims and how to stand up for what is right.
SAVA is tirelessly working to create a culture change that results in the end of sexual violence. Their support services and prevention programs are making a difference for thousands of people in Colorado. If you would like to help with their mission and become a volunteer, you can either fill out the application or find more information on their website.