Adults who have survived a sexual assault, whether recently or long ago, can often feel ashamed, guilty and isolated with nowhere to turn.
Those facing such a crisis in Madison County need to know that help is just a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sally Sheppard, executive director of The Cottage Sexual Assault Center, which is housed in a soothingly decorated older home off Lexington Road, says there is no need for victims to ever feel they have nowhere to turn.
“We will be an advocate that is there for you,” Sheppard said. “If you choose to report the rape (to law enforcement) we will go through that with you.”
She said that for most, that is a very scary process.
“We do this every day and most have never had this come up in their lives before, so they are unsure of what to expect,” she said.
While The Cottage also handles cases of child molestation in several other counties, including Clarke, cases involving Madison County children are now handled by The Harmony House, located in Royston, Sheppard said.
“We deal with adults only from Madison County,” she said, pointing out that this can also mean adults who were molested as children, but who are just now ready to deal with what happened to them.
“We focus more on the healing process for victims, not the arrest process,” she said, adding that they can explain and work with them through all their options, including prosecution. While reporting an incident of suspected child molestation is mandatory in every case, with an adult, there are more options.
The Cottage Sexual Assault Center Executive director Sally Sheppard and adult advocate Devon Sanger stand next to the sign at The Cottage Sexual Assault Center in Athens. The center’s services are available to adult victims of sexual assault in Madison County seven days a week through a 24-hour hotline. Margie Richards/staff
Local sexual assault center provides free, confidential help to adult victims of sexual assault in Madison County
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