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Tri-Valley Haven Takes A Stand Against Sexual Assault in Detention

Every year, at least 216,600 people are sexually abused in jails, prisons and other detention facilities in the U.S. To put that number in perspective, that’s about a quarter of the population of San Francisco. No one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted and sexual abuse is never an appropriate punishment, no matter what the crime.

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Tri-Valley Haven staff provides support services to incarcerated survivors in Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin.

Thanks to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), correctional facilities are now required to offer survivors the opportunity to meet with rape crisis counselors who are able to provide crisis intervention and emotional support after an assault. PREA also provides strong protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates, bans routine pat-down searches of female adult inmates by male staff and places strict limitations on the housing of youth in adult facilities. This landmark law aims to stop prison rape and protect disadvantaged populations, such as LGBTQ people and minors, who are often more vulnerable to abuse in correctional facilities than other inmates.

Tri-Valley Haven is dedicated to supporting all survivors, whether they are in our local community or they are in detention. For over a year, Tri-Valley Haven has been providing crisis counseling and advocacy services to incarcerated survivors of sexual assault at Santa Rita Jail and the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin. Together, these institutions hold close to 5,000 inmates at any given time.

Our professional staff has collaborated with these facilities to ensure inmates have access to our toll-free crisis line and sexual assault survivors in detention are able to see rape crisis counselors. Though we have seen both an increase in call volume on our crisis line and an increase in requests for advocates since we started offering services for incarcerated survivors, we receive no additional funding to provide these services.

Does advocacy for survivors in detention look different than advocacy for other survivors we see?

While there are differences in the resources available to incarcerated survivors and in the reporting process within correctional facilities, our role as crisis rape counselors and advocates remains the same. We are there to believe survivors when they disclose, provide information about their options, and support them through their healing process. We are never there to investigate the sexual assault or judge the survivor. Instead we are there to support the survivor – whoever they are, whatever their story – and provide them with resources.

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“How About Now?” is a visual campaign from Just Detention International, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting incarcerated survivors with advocacy resources.

If survivors in Santa Rita Jail or FCI-Dublin want to report a sexual assault, our rape crisis counselors can help them navigate the reporting process. If survivors do not want to report, we continue to support them through their healing process in other ways. Often survivors in detention do not think anyone will care about what’s happened to them. Having access to our crisis line and the opportunity to speak with a compassionate advocate who believes them makes a world of difference for a survivor in detention.

When survivors are believed, they are more likely to reach out for additional support services and begin their healing process. For incarcerated survivors, this means reaching out to further support resources once they leave detention. Since we have begun providing services in Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin, we have seen formerly incarcerated survivors call and come to Tri-Valley Haven for assistance after they’ve been release.

How can you take a stand against sexual assault in detention?

Along with correctional officers at Santa Rita Jail and Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Tri-Valley Haven is taking a stand to end prisoner rape. But how can you take a stand?

  • Believe all survivors. No one, including survivors in detention, deserves to be sexually assaulted. Rape is never an appropriate punishment, no matter what the crime. If an inmate or former inmate discloses that they were sexually assaulted in detention, believe them and let them know there are resources available for them.
  • Support Tri-Valley Haven. We have experienced a large increase in calls since we started providing services to inmates at Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin. Tri-Valley Haven receives no additional funding for providing crisis counseling services to incarcerated survivors of sexual assault. Donations by our supporters are urgently needed and always gratefully accepted.

 


3a92488 Jessie is a Sexual Assault Advocate on staff at Tri-Valley Haven. She provides advocacy services to survivors in our local community, as well as survivors in detention. She hopes that you will also take a stand against prisoner rape.

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