Sexual Assault Services Recognizes 20 Years of Volunteer Service

Published on April 15, 2016

Sexual Assault Services Recognizes 20 Years of Volunteer Service

Having volunteered and worked for the past seventeen years, in a field that supports people impacted by sexual violence, I’ve seen many changes. 

- Pam Buchko, SAS Volunteer Coordinator & Victim Advocate

For example, we know a lot more about sexual assault and the way in which trauma affects the brain. This knowledge has helped us to better understand “why” sexual assault survivors might behave in ways that seem contradictory.

According to David Lisak, Ph.D., “The memory of a traumatic experience is not encoded in the same way as is a normal experience. Often, a traumatized person cannot generate the kind of narrative memory that we can normally muster for an important experience. Their memories are often fragmented, out of sequence, and filled with gaps”.

Having that crucial information is extremely helpful to law enforcement, medical professionals, and victim advocates. Knowing that trauma can cause mayhem with someone’s memory, often making it impossible to remember what happened in a chronological manner will go a long way in knowing how to provide compassionate and respectful advocacy for survivors. Being able to share the brain trauma information with a survivor of sexual assault can be life changing; making sense of what otherwise might seem irrational. When survivors are provided with this knowledge, and have a greater understanding of the impact of trauma, they are more likely to experience long-term healing and self-compassion.

SAS is fortunate to have a committed group of volunteer victim advocates who are willing to be part of a solution that promotes positive social change. That along with their compassionate support and non-judgmental acceptance will greatly facilitate recovery for survivors of sexual violence.

Each year we present one of our volunteers with the Douglas Mehlhorn M. D. Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Volunteerism and Service. This year we are delighted to present the award to Corinne Harter. Corinne has volunteered with SAS as a victim advocate for almost four years accumulating 1, 449 hours of on-call time.

Corinne is a reporter for the Marshall Advisor & Chronicle. She came to know SAS while doing a story on our “2010 Summit to Fight Interpersonal Violence” in which one of the workshops featured a panel of survivors who had experienced child sexual abuse and, or, sexual assault in their lifetime.

Soon after writing the story Corinne expressed an interest in our volunteer program and registered for the next training, and the rest as they say, is history! Corinne puts so much heart into each and every call she goes on, but what is also impressive about her work as an advocate is after she does all she can for survivors while with them, she remains concerned about their aftercare once they leave our site. By being so empathic and accommodating to the needs of those she works with she learns a lot about some of the struggles they face, and she takes it to heart. She has told me many times, that she “loves serving”. I believe that is an understatement.

Besides getting up in the middle of the night and spending hours with survivors and their family members, offering a listening ear, referral information, and kind gentle care, she covers all of our events, including our annual volunteer recognition dinner, which she along with the other volunteers are honorees. It should be a time for her to sit back and enjoy the evening with the rest of the advocates, but she insists on covering the event and writing about it for the paper, because she truly does love what she does. Congratulations to Corinne and all the other volunteer advocates, past and present who have helped so many people for twenty years. We could not do the work without them.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call 911 or our toll-free crisis line at (888) 383-2192 for help. Learn more about the services that we provide here.

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