The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) announces today that it will launch a web chat hotline this November. The web chat hotline will be a new way for sexual assault survivors, their loved ones, and providers to receive information, support, and referrals about sexual abuse, assault, and violence.
The live web chat hotline will be available daily from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. beginning in November. BARCC is currently recruiting web chat hotline volunteers for training sessions to be held in August and October. “As BARCC’s capacity grows to staff the online hotline, the hours will increase until we reach 24-7 online services,” said BARCC Executive Director Gina Scaramella. “We will publicize the expansion of the available hours as the service is launched and hours change,” she added.
This new way to access BARCC’s hotline will be offered in addition to the organization’s long-running telephone hotline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline expansion comes after a significant spike in requests for BARCC services since the #MeToo movement went viral, prompting numerous sexual assault survivors to seek assistance.
In December 2017, for example, BARCC saw a 34% spike in calls to its telephone hotline over the previous December. For the months of December and January, the organization experienced a 110% increase in requests for legal support and a 43% increase in requests for counseling services compared with the same period the previous year.
“With the intense public focus on sexual assault sparked by the #MeToo movement, there is unprecedented demand for BARCC services, including from callers to our hotline,” said Scaramella. “Some callers are survivors who have been re-traumatized by the glut of coverage of sexual violence and need support. Others are survivors who never sought help after being assaulted and now feel empowered to begin the healing process. Our web chat hotline will allow us to serve more survivors—including folks who may not have phone minutes but have access to a computer, younger people who gravitate toward communicating online, people whose discomfort talking on the phone has prevented them from calling, and others. We want all survivors to be able to connect with BARCC, and this is an important step in that direction.”
BARCC’s hotline has been operating since 1973. It is staffed by highly trained and supervised volunteer rape crisis counselors and staff who talk with survivors, their families and friends, and providers about sexual violence. Hotline counselors field calls from people in crisis immediately after an assault to those who are seeking help for sexual abuse or an assault that occurred years ago. Hotline counselors offer a listening and supportive presence, help survivors understand the options and resources available to them, and provide referrals to services.
Web chat hotline volunteer counselors must complete a 40-hour training. BARCC is currently recruiting for 40-hour training sessions in August or October. The August training takes place Monday–Friday from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. August 20–24. The October training runs from October 13–November 27. It includes full day sessions (9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.) on Saturday, October 13, 20, and 27 and three-hour weeknight sessions (6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.) October 15, 17, 18, 24, and 25.
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About the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
Since 1973, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) has been a leader in the movement to end sexual violence. BARCC empowers survivors of sexual violence to heal and provides education and advocacy for the social change needed to prevent sexual violence. BARCC provides free, confidential support to survivors of sexual violence and their families and friends. It also works with high schools, colleges, police, organizations, and communities to advocate for change by providing training in how to respond to survivors and create cultures that prevent sexual violence in the first place. For more information, please visit barcc.org. Follow BARCC on social media: Twitter @barcc; Instagram @barccofficial; Facebook /barcc.org.