Support, help, education and connection are all important when a victim is dealing with a sexual assault or domestic violence.
For the last decade, The Refuge, formerly named Center for Women and Children in Crisis, has been holding classes for victims to provide these essentials. But, some members of the population have had difficulty accessing the help. Because of that, the center has just begun holding support group classes in both English and Spanish.
According to Bethany Crisp, The Refuge sexual assault services coordinator, there are about 71,000 Hispanic people living in Utah County. One in five women in the United States experienced rape or attempted rape and the need for these classes continues to increase.
“We’re just really excited to have this available because we’ve had many clients who can’t speak English. Sometimes they come and aren’t able to participate,” Crisp said. “This is a big step for us to better be able to serve. We’ve definitely seen the need.”
The classes are a mix of support group and education. Topics for the classes are relevant to victims who have been assaulted to help in recovery and dealing with what has happened. Some examples include post-traumatic stress disorder, boundaries, healthy relationships, how to talk about assaults, coping skills and ways to deal with recovery. Topics are announced each week on The Refuge Facebook and Instagram pages.
The classes are open so that anyone can come any week and there is no waiting list. Participants can come when they are ready. “Some come for a long period of time,” Crisp said.
The classes also serve as a support group, where everyone is encouraged to participate and a lot of time is spent talking to each other about what is working for them.
“I love to hear them talk to each other. It can be very healing to see other people who are struggling with the same thing,” Crisp said. “For example, victim blaming is a huge problem for sexual assault victims, but they don’t get that here. They get compassion.”
Crisp said that before the center added the Spanish classes, the closest ones were in Salt Lake City, making it difficult for some people to attend.
The center’s rape crisis team does include volunteers who speak a variety of languages. This is helpful because they regularly respond to hospitals to aid victims after sexual assaults. But, until now, the support classes were only offered in English, although anyone is welcome to attend.
The classes will be offered each Wednesday, virtually on Zoom or in-person at The Refuge, 1433 E. 840 N., Orem. Walk-ins are welcome and there is no need for previous registration. For more information, go to http://therefugeutah.org.
Wednesdays at The Refuge Utah, 1433 E 840 North — Orem 6 p.m.: English Domestic Violence Class (downstairs east conference room). 7 p.m.: English Sexual Assault Class (downstairs west conference room). 7 p.m.: Spanish Domestic Violence Class (downstairs east conference room). 8 p.m.: Spanish Sexual Assault Class (downstairs west conference room).