STSM Offers 24-7 Support For Sexual Assault Survivors During The Holiday Season

COLUMBIA, SC – The holidays hold different meanings for everyone. Many sexual assault survivors face obstacles to the enjoyment many people assume everyone feels this time of year. Any sexual assault survivor needing assistance with coping through the holidays can call STSM’s 24-7 hotline (771-7273) and get help.

-  The survivor may not have disclosed the abuse or may not have been supported by family after disclosing the abuse. This leaves the survivor with the choice of returning home to spend the holidays with the perpetrator and/or hostile family members or to be alone.

-  Even if the survivor reported the abuse and was supported by family, it may still bring up many unpleasant memories to return home for the holidays.

-  Many people drink more than usual over the holidays. Alcohol increases several risk factors, including the risk of depression and the risk of experiencing another assault.

-  The holidays frequently involve religious activities. If the survivor was assaulted by a member of their religious organization it may be difficult for that survivor to participate in faith-based customs.

-  When a survivor is dealing with depression following an assault, the societal pressure to be merry can intensify the symptoms of depression.

“Please respect the limitations of those who struggle during the holiday season. It can be helpful to offer alternative activities or gatherings,” says Executive Director Ginny Waller. Waller adds, “The most important thing people can do is to believe the survivor and encourage them to get help. STSM is here to provide support for survivors through our hotline and can schedule a free counseling appointment with one of our licensed counselors who specialize in dealing with trauma. It is never too late to start the healing process.”

STSM is located at 3830 Forest Drive in Suite 201 and is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. STSM provides crisis intervention, personal and legal advocacy and counseling to survivors as well as prevention education to local middle and high school students. The office number is 803-790-8208. The 24-hour hotline is 803-771-7273. All services are free and confidential.

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.