FAQ: Crisis Hotline

At Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, we spend a lot of time talking about sexual violence because it’s our job! For others, these conversations may not come so easily. Sexual violence is an uncomfortable and deeply personal topic, and talking about your experience can feel invasive. For many people, though, talking about their experience is exactly what is needed to move forward in the healing process. STSM offers a 24-Hour Crisis Hotline to provide an anonymous, confidential space for these conversations.

Here are 7 questions that might help you in deciding whether to call the help line for support:

1. I’m not sure if this is the right place to talk about my situation. Should I call the crisis hotline?

If you have any concerns about unwanted sexual attention or experiences, absolutely call the help line. Even if you are not sure if what happened to you would be considered “sexual violence” — call us. If we’re not the best resource for what you are personally experiencing, we can help point you in the right direction. Sexual violence can be hard to talk about and nobody should have to sit alone in an uncertain situation. People can call our help line anytime, immediately after experiencing trauma or even years later. We provide support and resources for survivors, their loved ones, and professionals who support them.

2. I don’t know whom I’m talking to. Who is on the other end of the line?

The people who answer our help line are known as Advocates. They have had extensive training on sexual assault, crisis response, and community resources so that they can provide a safe space to listen compassionately and confidentially to your concerns and to offer referrals for further assistance. The most important thing to remember is you are talking to someone who believes you, is here for you, and supports you.

3. I don’t know what to expect. What happens when I call the crisis hotline number?

When you call the crisis hotline number during business hours (weekdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.), a trained support person will answer right away. If you call outside of regular business hours, the person who answers will ask why you are calling, then ask you to hold while they transfer you to an Advocate. Or if you call after business hours, once the person answers you can ask to be patched through directly to the Advocate without saying why you are calling.

4. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. What kind of support is available through the STSM crisis hotline?

The STSM crisis hotline is a confidential, immediate resource for crisis and non-crisis situations. Advocates provide a safe space to process through racing thoughts, overwhelming emotions, and other concerns. Advocates can also share information and referrals about health care options, legal options, and who to contact if they don’t have all the information to answer your specific questions. If you go to the hospital, would like to file a report with the police, or have an upcoming trial or hearing, Advocates can take your information so someone from STSM can follow up and accompany you. Advocates will also give you the opportunity to have a counselor from STSM follow up with you, but you are more than welcome to decline follow up from STSM.

5. I’m concerned about a friend. Can I still talk to a Crisis Hotline Advocate?

Yes. As a secondary survivor – a partner, parent, family member, or friend of someone who has been sexually assaulted – it is also important to address your reaction to the situation. Working through your own concerns can help you to be more present when supporting your friend. You can also act as an advocate for your friend and call the crisis hotline to get information and resources to share with them.

6. I spoke with someone on the phone. What do I do next?

Breathe. Thank yourself for spending the time and energy to address your needs, as this is one of many steps that can help you move toward healing. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to call someone you don’t know and ask for help. Breathe again. If you called the crisis hotline looking for resources, reach out and call those other support systems when you feel ready to do so. If you can’t reach out to others yet, call us back. We are available 24/7, and you don’t have to go through this alone. What comes next for you personally depends entirely on your situation. Whatever questions you have or whatever comes your way, we are always here to support you.

7. How do I call the STSM crisis hotline?

The hotline can be reached by calling (803) 771-7273. Callers in Newberry, Clarendon, or Sumter counties can call our toll-free number at (800) 491-7273. You can call the hotline at any time, even on holidays; STSM is here for you.