Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center Teams Up With Haven House for Rape Victims Advocacy

July 1, 2004 -- Posted at 5:45 p.m. CDT

POPLAR BLUFF -- The U.S. Department of Justice reports that every two minutes a woman is raped and one out of every three women in America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. With shocking statistics like these, medical professionals in Poplar Bluff deal with rapes and sexual assaults several times a month. While victims can be treated medically, sometimes the emotional damage is harder to heal... but a new program may help.

"We get anything from teenagers subject to date rape to the actual physically violent rapes that we get, or sexual assaults that we get even all the way up to the elderly people where we have to provide those exams," said Emergency Department Director Sherry Yarbrough for the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.
Dealing with sexual assault or rape can be difficult for victims, especially while they are seeking medical attention.
"The ER staff, they want to help, they want to go the extra mile but sometimes because of time...it's an emergency room and so they're not going to have the time to work with the victim like they want to," said Haven House's Sexual Assault Advocate Ceceli Duckworth

A new program is offering a helping hand. Haven House and the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center are working together to provide support and counseling for victims.

"We want to be there for them. Let them know that they do have rights and that they do have someone that they can turn to, and if they want our services we are certainly there for them," said Duckworth. "We don't push it on them certainly, we don't do that. But we do let them know that we are here and we do offer counseling and we do have a support group for specifically sexual assault victims."
The program is funded by a Department of Public Safety grant which allows volunteers to serve on an on-call basis. Now, when a victim of sexual assault comes to emergency room a nurse will offer to call a member of the advocacy group at Haven House who will come over and stay with the victim.
"To have someone there that is not running in and out of the room that will stay with them during the whole thing and that we will follow up with them if they want us to," said Duckworth.
The volunteer advocates also help victims through the court procedures, something many find intimidating.
"It's very traumatic for them, so the patients need someone there that can kind of help them walk through the process and help to answer some of their questions. What am I going to do next? How am I going to get home? You know the things they really can't think for themselves at the time for," said Yarbrough.
To volunteer to become a Haven House ER counselor you can call 1-800-491-1138.