STSM Expands to Sumter County

COLUMBIA, SC - Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM) opened a second office in May, expanding services in Sumter County to ensure that survivors of sexual violence receive the help they need.

The new office, located at 105 N. Magnolia Street in Sumter, is open Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. STSM staff is already providing crisis intervention and personal and legal advocacy to survivors and, beginning this school year, will teach prevention education to local middle and high school students. The office number is 803-773-5531, ext. 252. The 24-hour hotline is 1-800-491-7273. All services are free and confidential.

Sarah Collins, a Sumter native and recent graduate of Columbia International University, is leading the office and spearheading efforts to recruit more local volunteers to assist on hospital and hotline calls. An STSM volunteer since 2011, Collins was hired this year to fill the new position of Community Advocate and Prevention Specialist in Sumter.

STSM actually began working in Sumter County in March 2011, partnering with Tuomey Hospital to train medical personnel and volunteers to be first responders to sexual assault cases. Staff and volunteers accompanied victims at the hospital, while follow-up counseling was available in the Columbia office. This arrangement was on a temporary basis, so in August 2012 the STSM Board of Directors approved the permanent adoption of Sumter County and hiring a full-time staff member to open the agency's first satellite office.

"Since we arrived here a few weeks ago, we've seen an increase in requests for legal advocacy and more referrals for counseling from Shaw Air Force Base," said STSM Director of Crisis Services Melanie Griffin Snipes, who will be based in the new office at least two days each month to provide individual counseling.

So far in 2013, STSM has provided 490 services to 42 victims of sexual assault and abuse in Sumter County, including nearly 100 counseling and crisis sessions.

STSM also helped create Sumter County's first Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to coordinate medical, legal, and support and psychological services for survivors. The Sumter SART, which held its first meeting in June 2012, strives to ensure that victims of sexual violence have access to appropriate resources so they can reach safety and healing. The group includes law enforcement, medical personnel, military, and other victim service providers. 

Agency opens first permament office outside of Columbia

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), formerly named Rape Crisis Network, is a private, nonprofit, United Way member agency committed to providing free, direct services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse, including 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital accompaniment, court accompaniment, personal advocacy, individual and group counseling, and education about sexual trauma issues.