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The Many Paths Forward for Victims of Sexual Violence

The news has been full of stories recently of women and men alike coming forward to tell their stories of being sexual assaulted or harassed. Many of the perpetrators are famous or powerful men, while still others are unnamed or unknown abusers. We have reached a moment where there seems to be a possibility of real change, where men and women who sexually harass and assault others are being held accountable — and where the majority of our society is believing victims who come forward.

Yet this moment can often put pressure on victims and survivors of sexual violence to tell their stories in ways that might not feel comfortable or safe, or to speak out in a way that can be harmful to them. There is no one right way to handle the aftermath of sexual violence, and each person has the right to choose how to move forward with her or his life. At Blackburn Center, we support victims through this process, and understand that healing means different things for each individual.

There are ways that a person can tell their story and “speak out” about sexual violence without the pressure or fear that may accompany talking about an experience publicly or on social media. One way to be heard is through contacting Blackburn Center to take advantage of our services for victims, which include a 24 hour hotline, counseling and therapy, support groups, and legal and medical accompaniment. Our services are always confidential, and are available at no charge to clients. Calls to our hotline (1-888-832-2272 or 724-836-1122) can also be anonymous, and can be made at any time of the day or night — 365 days a year. We are here for you, and to hear your story — in your time, in your space, and when you are ready.

The counseling and therapy services offered by Blackburn Center are unique in Westmoreland County in that they are trauma-informed. This means that our services incorporate a basic understanding of how trauma affects the life of a victim, and focus on core principles of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. When you seek help from Blackburn Center, you can be assured that we will work with you to help you determine the best path forward for you.

As you consider all of the different ways that you can be heard in this new era of victims speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault, remember that at Blackburn Center, we are always here to listen to your story, if and when you are ready to tell it, and to support you in whatever path you may choose to take.

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