When someone in the five-county area experiences the trauma of sexual abuse or assault, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM.org) is there for them every step of the way, any day of the week, anytime of the day.
Sexual assault does not discriminate by age, ethnicity, gender or family income. The only thing survivors have in common is that the assault was not their fault.
STSM employs a three-tiered solution to sexual violence in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Sumter and Clarendon Counties: awareness, prevention, and advocacy for survivors.
STSM’s highly trained advocates are on call for survivors of assault 24/7, says Brittany Russell, director of development. “If a survivor goes to the hospital, even if it’s at 2 a.m., there is always an advocate who can respond.”
The agency staffs a 24-hour hotline so survivors can access support and resources any time. That number is (803) 771-7273.
Sexual assault can have devastating emotional effects on victims, who often face an array of conflicting feelings – shame, fear, anger, sadness and more. Following an assault, STSM offers survivors crisis intervention to ensure safety, address immediate needs and build coping skills. Those seeking crisis intervention for a friend or family member learn to create a plan to support their loved one.
Individual and group therapy sessions with licensed clinicians offer a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment that fosters hope and healing for each survivor. These sessions cover weeks or months and focus on improving coping skills, relationships, boundaries, and feelings of hope, safety, and trust.
STSM supported nearly 2,500 survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones last year, all free of charge.
For survivors who wish to learn more about their legal options after an assault, STSM provides free legal advocacy. This may include help filing a police report following an assault, support through a legal case, family court issues and civil court action.
A healthy community free of sexual violence requires awareness and understanding of what constitutes sexual assault. STSM conducted 1,230 trainings last year with more than 7,000 individuals to identify and prevent assault. Trainings are conducted in businesses, faith organizations and schools, where prevention specialists employ age-appropriate curricula to keep children safe. STSM works with middle and high schools to educate students about how to have healthy relationships with established boundaries.
You can help Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands end sexual violence and provide aid and comfort to assault survivors by offering your time, talent or resources. Volunteer opportunities include serving as a trained advocate, or helping with fundraising events or an awareness campaign. In-kind support includes hosting a fundraiser at your home or business, providing clothing items from the STSM wish list, or donating gift cards or office supplies.
As all of STSM’s clinical and legal advocacy services are offered to survivors of sexual violence and their friends and families free of charge, STSM also gratefully accepts tax-deductible monetary contributions critical to its operation. Visit STSM.org/donate-now or call (803) 790-8208 for more information.
Healing is possible for survivors of sexual assault. The community can take part in this healing by supporting agencies like STSM.