The month of April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every day countless organizations tackle the issue of abuse and sexual assault.
This month we introduce you to a volunteer who is working to help victims in need.
Charlotte Milbert, HOPE, Inc. said, “I believe in giving back to the community and this is the main way that I can give back to the community.”
According to the CDC about one in five women and one in 71 men are victims of sexual assault.
“I initially meet with the victims at the hospital and walk them through the exams. In their time of trauma they need somebody to reach out to. If you have experienced something traumatic yourself, you know how to connect with that person,” Milbert said.
Milbert spends evenings and weekends volunteering as a victim advocate with HOPE, Inc. in Harrison County.
“It’s a way of giving back. It’s almost therapeutic in a way. It’s a way to not just give back to the community but the individuals I can connect with,” said Milbert.
Advocates are available to meet at the hospital at any time, and can provide emotional support and assistance all the way through a criminal trial if the victim decides to press charges.
HOPE, Inc. Outreach Coordinator Jackie Ritter explained, “An advocate is someone there to be supportive, tell them what options they have because a victim doesn’t have to report to the police and there is a process for that. Just being with them for that whole exam it could take upwards of three, four, five, six hours for that exam to be done.”
From modeling healthy behavior to addressing inappropriate conduct, HOPE, Inc. encourages everyone to support those affected by sexual assault.
Milbert added, “It takes a team of people to make a victim feel comfortable. It has to do with the SANE nurses at UHC, the team that works at HOPE. “