Despite the number of rape cases reported to authorities each year, statistics show that an even greater number go unreported.
The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center (SBRCC) was established 26 years ago as a resource for victims of sexual assault, their friends and family. SBRCC Board Director Carol Mosely, who is also UCSB Women’s Center rape prevention education coordinator, said only 5 percent of rape victims in college reports their cases to the police. According to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol 1998-99 school-year crime report, 14 rapes were reported.
The center, which is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, offers crisis intervention, short- and long-term counseling, and rape prevention programs. SBRCC Executive Director Elsa Granados said the staff is bilingual, and services are available in person and over the phone.
"Crisis intervention services, advocacy, accompaniment, short-term counseling on the phone or in person and any follow-up support that may be needed are all a part of the services we offer," she said. "The 24-hour hotline and counseling to help survivors of sexual assault are also available to family and friends because sexual assault is a very traumatic experience."
Gracie Huerta, community education and rape prevention coordinator, said the SBRCC encourages sexual assault survivors to take advantage of the long-term counseling offered.
"We accompany survivors of sexual assault to hospitals, court proceedings and medical examinations to be there for support and as a voice for them if they need it," she said. "We do long-term counseling because sexual assault has long-term consequences; even if it happened five to 10 years ago, we still welcome them, and we encourage that."
The center is affiliated with the countywide Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), which consists of various groups dedicated to advocating for sexual assault survivors in court, according to Mosely.
"It’s the only organization that advocates specifically for survivors of sexual assault," she said. "They try to make the process of dealing with this more successful in prosecution."
The center also offers outreach to community service groups, which includes prevention education at local high schools, Huerta said. If requested, trained male and female peer volunteers will lead these presentations.
"More specifically, we talk about wanted and unwanted sexual attention. Basically, ‘without consent, it’s rape,’ " she said. "We educate about sexual harassment and how it is a continuum to sexual assault, how it starts there and at times ends in assault. We target high school kids because we know that statistically, women are in the most danger between the ages of 18 through 24, and all of these kids are headed in that direction."
The SBRCC also works toward rape prevention through other means, including a radio show on KCSB 91.9 FM and a four-hour self-defense class, offered monthly. The center encourages businesses to provide training for their female employees, Huerta said.
"One out of three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It is an issue. It happens quite a bit," she said.
SBRCC staff includes full-time employees, as well as volunteer advocates, who donate their time to make a contribution to the community, Granados said.
"Others do it because they want to create social change, do something meaningful, they’re a survivor themselves or a significant other of a survivor," she said. "We’re trying to create change in the community, not only [prevent] violence in our community but also on a societal level."
The SBRCC will hold volunteer training next month. For more information, call 963-6832. Or for counseling, the 24-hour hotline is available at 692-4011.