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Rape center relocates RF office

November 9, 2006

Since 2001, local sexual assault victims have been served by the St. Croix Valley Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) at nearby hospitals and emergency rooms. Yet with the victims’ fear of public embarrassment on her mind, Executive Director Kristi Pavek made the decision to transition to a one-stop shop for dealing with assault situations.

“This is a town where everyone knows everybody,” Pavek said. “Some people don’t want to go to the hospital where they are going to know someone who is going to ask them questions.”

Last month, the center moved to 1343 N. Main St., next to Burger King. Pavek said the new center will ensure the highest quality care for sexual assault victims, and instead of having to go to the hospital after an assault, victims can go straight to the center for the care they need.

“We will be the first one in the Midwest to provide medical forensic evidence collection, advocacy and support groups at the same time,” Pavek said of the new SART location.

The new center, which begins providing its new services in January, includes a medical room where a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) can provide exams, as well as a support group room.

Not only will this new center be a one-stop shop, it will also be completely free and run by volunteers, Pavek said. It is primarily funded by donations from the public and foundations.

“We still need volunteers for advocacy and other things,” Pavek said. “Anyone is welcome and there are a lot of things to do around here.”

SART offers financial assistance and medical forensic exams to sexual assault victims if the incident is reported to police. The SANE also gives the victim emergency contraceptives and antibiotics to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. SART also provides advocacy, which is emotional support provided by volunteers.

September and October mark the months when the majority of sexual assault cases are reported, Pavek said. This year the number of incidents has decreased, but the positive statistic doesn’t stop SART’s local efforts.

“I hope this means that it isn’t happening,” Pavek said. “We saw a couple more this summer, but not as many these past two months.”

River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque said the drop in numbers may be a result of students and residents of River Falls becoming more educated on sexual assault and what to do in dangerous situations.

“The awareness that we raise on sexual assault and the precautions to take leads to reduction and prevention” likely play a role in the decrease, Leque said.
Pavek said the decline may also be a result of the closing down of some of the big party houses on campus.

“I don’t want to place blame at all, but those two facts are out there,” Pavek said. “That’s how it is on every campus, not just UWRF.”