Rape victims could soon have help

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2014

A group of local women have joined forces to hopefully establish a Covington County rape response advocacy program, local Lions Club members learned on Wednesday.

Debra Gamble, who spoke to the Lions Club, said Andalusia Regional Hospital ER Director Amy Herrington and Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter are spearheading the program.

“We’re talking to all of the civic groups in the area looking for volunteers to help with this program,” Gamble said.

Gamble said they are recruiting volunteers who will work hand-in-hand with the nurses at ARH.

“The nurses at Andalusia Regional have been recently trained in the same program, which is the sexual assault nurse examiners program,” Gamble said. “The volunteers that we are trying to put together will go through a training program to be able to work with these nurses.”

The Birmingham-based Crisis Center will conduct the training program, Gamble said, and the training program will begin in January as a 40-hour program. She said there may be adjustments to make the program available as a weekend or early evening training.

The volunteers would serve as on-call advocates for sexual assault victims and their families, and would respond to requests for medical advocacy at ARH.

“The nurses have to be able to hold a sense of detachment from these victims, so the advocates will be trained to help the rape victims emotionally, while the nurses work on the medical part,” Gamble said. “We’re looking for volunteers, both men or women, because men or women can be victims of sexual abuse.”

According to Gamble, there are approximately 12 rape victims per year that are seen through ARH.

“They do expect that number to increase as word gets out that Andalusia nurses have the training to help these victims,” she said. “There are a lot of hospitals in surrounding counties that do not have this training.”

She said there are no requirements for previous experience in this field, but volunteers are required to be over 18 years old, have good personal references and clean backgrounds and driving records.

Other qualifications include:

• having a real desire to be of help to other individuals;

• having an ability to identify the feelings of others;

• having a non-judgmental attitude toward people of all walks of life and their difficulties;

• being dependable and punctual;

• being emotionally stable;

• being able to refrain from advice-giving and self-disclosure;

• having the ability to deal with situations that are frustrating and/or stressful;

• being willing to learn and to receive supervision and feedback in a non-defensive manner from trainers and colleagues; and

• possessing an awareness of his or her own limitations and to seek consultation when necessary.

Gamble said that once a volunteer is accepted, he or she will be trained in communication, and emotional support, and offered references and recovery information to share with the victims.

There is also a one-year commitment needed from volunteers who are accepted into the program.

For more information or to apply, contact Debra Gamble at 678-794-4898, or Cindy Howard at 334-208-0801.