Misconceptions on Sexual Assault Victims' Program

Rep. Robert Dornan's (R-Garden Grove) column, "Growing Plague of Sexual Assaults," (Oct. 11) fails to provide the Orange County community with accurate information regarding the availability of services to victims of rape and sexual assault. The only rape crisis center in Orange County did not close as stated by Rep. Dornan. Only the Orange County Sexual Assault Network closed.

Established in 1981, Community Service Programs' Sexual Assault Victim Services is now the only rape crisis center in Orange County committed to serve a community of 2.4 million people. The Santa Ana-based program provides 24-hour crisis counseling (three rape-crisis hot lines) and response to hospitals. Additional services include emergency assistance, financial aid, shelter, food, follow-up counseling, accompaniment and advocacy, and information and referral assistance.

Each year, more than 1,500 sexual assault victims and their families are assisted by a staff of four and 77 volunteers, all certified sexual assault counselors. As the assistant director of Community Service Programs' (CSP) Sexual Assault Victim Services for the past six years--and never an Orange County Sexual Assault Network employee as stated by Rep. Dornan--I am responsible for coordinating the volunteer and training program for the center. Survivors of sexual assault continue to receive counseling as they strive to recover from emotional and physical injuries.

Rep. Dornan states that in Orange County, "victim assistance services barely exist." This is simply not true. CSP victim assistance programs include Victim/Witness Assistance Program Centers in each courthouse; a Domestic Violence Assistance Program with the Family Law Court in Orange; and Gang Victim Services.

Another aspect of Rep. Dornan's commentary includes the impression that sexual assault is "one of modern society's failures." In reality this crime has been a part of our history since biblical times. Dornan also said "only when society's institutions--families, churches, schools, civic-oriented groups and others--resume the responsibility of teaching self-discipline, moral obligation and civil behavior and respect for authority will the cultural downfall be reversed." Indeed, some well-known members of these very institutions are identified rapists. Sexual assault is about power and control! Our "cultural downfall" will not stop until these myths no longer exist and programs such as ours are funded to do the job that is needed.


Community Service Programs,

Sexual Assault Victim Services

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