Services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault were temporarily unavailable in Cowley County after the collapse of Safe Homes.

However, a new support system became available late last year in Cowley and Sumner counties.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resources in Cowley and Sumner counties has been up and running for several months.

The organization offers hotline numbers for both communities, with calls funneled directly to support staff.

One aspect that staff emphasizes is the confidentiality they offer.

“(It’s) especially important in communities where everyone knows everyone,” said Kami Dobbs, supervisor for Cowley and Sumner County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resources. “We don’t go out and share the stories.”

Help around the clock

The 24-hour crisis hotlines provide information or help that is available 365 days a year.

One of the services provided is medical advocacy. Advocates support survivors during forensic evidence collection and medical examinations.

In Cowley County, there is a team of nurses associated with William Newton Hospital, called “SANE/SART” nurses, who are trained to handle the medical needs of an assault survivor.

“We use the term ‘victim’ often — we feel it’s important to change the language. What happens to you doesn’t define who you are,” Dobbs said.

“We want to steer away from that language.”

Counseling and support

The resource center also offers support counseling. One-on-one crisis counseling is available in both of the county offices.

It also offers support groups that meet from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at both the Cowley and Sumner locations.

“We’re here to help with the healing process,” Dobbs said.

There also is outreach for the Spanish-speaking community and bilingual advocates stand ready to help those who don’t speak English.

There also is educational programming available, designed to educate the public about the services offered while challenging cultural myths about sexual assault. These materials are available in both English and Spanish.

“We will go out and talk to schools or organizations,” Dobbs said.

Contact information

The Cowley office is located at 121 College St. in Winfield and the hotline phone number is (620) 229-7233.

The Sumner office is located at 204 S. Washington Ave. and the hotline phone number is (620) 440-3700.

The resource center does not currently have a shelter in Cowley County or any immediate plans to create one.

All services provided by the organizations are free and confidential, and available to serve both men and women.

About sexual violence

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides statistical information about the prevalence of sexual violence in the United States.

According to its information, nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives, and 1 in 67 American men have experienced rape or attempted rape.

Sexual violence is a broad term that includes rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism.

Those who sexually abuse others can be acquaintances, family, trusted individuals or strangers. Of these, the first three are the most common.