(DUBLIN, Ohio)— As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Heather Herron Murphy, manager of OhioHealth’s Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO), today announced the launch of a new helpline serving survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence across the state.
Advocates with the Ohio Sexual Violence Helpline at 1-844-OHIO-HELP (1-844-644-6435) began taking calls this morning. The new helpline, which is the first confidential, statewide hotline dedicated to serving survivors of sexual assault in Ohio, is staffed by SARNCO 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is open to all callers living anywhere in the state.
“Sexual assault is an under-reported crime, in part because those who have been assaulted don’t always know who to call for confidential support, and in some parts of Ohio, there is no one locally who they can call at all,” said Attorney General DeWine during a news conference this morning at OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital. “Now, thanks to this new helpline, no matter who you are, and no matter where you live, advocates will be available 24/7 to direct sexual assault survivors to local resources or just listen and provide comfort.”
“Today, numerous advocacy programs provide support to survivors of sexual assault in Ohio,” said Murphy. “But despite these remarkable efforts, there are still areas across the state that do not have 24-hour access to confidential sexual violence advocacy, support and resources. The Ohio Sexual Violence Helpline aims to fill in those gaps, and to support existing services by connecting survivors in their counties to their local resources.”
The Ohio Sexual Violence Helpline will act as the primary helpline for residents living in counties without a local 24-hour helpline and will work in collaboration with, not in place of, hotlines that are currently in operation elsewhere in the state.
More than a dozen advocates, who are trained in safety planning, crises intervention, and basic coping skills, will staff the helpline and provide callers with support and information on local community resources. Advocates can also provide recovery books and emergency door and window locks to those who need them.
The helpline is funded by a $1.2 million grant that Attorney General DeWine awarded OhioHealth as part of the “Ohio Attorney General’s Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative.” The initiative aims to fund new programs in Ohio that will empower survivors to overcome their victimization.
According to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, there were at least 4,640 rapes reported statewide in 2014.