For many parents, difficult choices and sacrifices are made every day. Should you spend money on a babysitter and go out on a much-needed date night, or save money and spend time with the kids? Finally replace your winter boots and clothes that have more holes than you can count, or buy new cold-weather gear for the little ones? When it comes to families, parents often put their children first, sacrificing their own needs. This is true even when it comes to getting help for sexual trauma.
In the coming year, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), will work to ensure that no family will have to make these difficult decisions any more. Next year, the organization that advocates for and supports survivors of sexual assault and abuse will provide extensive training to their clinicians to lower their service age to 8.
This will, in turn, ensure that families in the community can access trauma-specific healing care together. Moms, dads, sons and daughters will receive the same message of healing and hope after trauma.
Last year, more than 75 families were turned away from help because STSM staff didn’t have necessary certifications to provide care for their children. In its goal of accommodating all those in need of sexual trauma care, the organization will be adding play therapy rooms for children in all five of their locations. The rooms will be supplied with child-sized chairs, a range of toys and games and other developmentally appropriate toys that will be used to facilitate healing.
To make the play therapy rooms a reality, STSM has a goal of raising $10,000 to support the training and adaptations necessary to serve families together.
For those able to support STSM, know that donations made via Facebook on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and all transaction fees will also be waived. Donations can also be made online at www.stsm.org/donate-now or checks can be mailed to 3830 Forest Drive, Suite 209, Columbia, SC 29204.
Founded in 1983, STSM is one of 15 sexual assault service agencies in South Carolina. Last year, STSM provided trauma-focused care at no cost to more than 2,600 survivors in our community. STSM advocates for and supports survivors of sexual assault and abuse in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Clarendon and Sumter counties and educates the community to identify and prevent sexual violence.
STSM provides no-cost, direct services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Because sexual violence affects people regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sexual and gender identity or any other affiliations, STSMs counselors, educators and advocates have received training to support all survivors, regardless of their background.
Direct services are available to all primary and secondary survivors of sexual assault and the organization’s wide range of services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital accompaniment, court accompaniment, personal advocacy, individual and group counseling, trafficking survivor advocacy and prevention education about sexual trauma issues.
For more information on STSM and how you can get involved, visit stsm.org or call 803-790-8208.