A new confidential, 24-hour sexual assault hotline will provide crisis support and referrals to survivors and their friends and family, Gov. Rick Snyder and First Lady Sue Snyder announced.
The hotline, at 1-855-VOICES4, launched this week.
“The launch of this hotline is the latest – and one of the most important – steps in Michigan’s efforts to support survivors of sexual assault as they go through the healing process,” Gov. Snyder said. “Sue and I want survivors to know that trained, caring professionals are prepared to listen and assist them along their journey toward healing.”
The hotline will be staffed by professional crisis counselors with specialized training in crisis intervention, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, victim’s rights, health options and Michigan law. Hotline staff can help connect victims with community-based sexual assault programs that offer additional counseling, advocacy and support. Hotline staff also can connect victims with other Michigan services such as Crime Victims Compensation and the Michigan Victim Information and Notification Everyday (MI-VINE), an electronic victim notification service.
“Too often, survivors of sexual assault feel they have nowhere to turn for help,” Sue Snyder said. “This hotline helps to build a more supportive environment in Michigan where survivors can reach out safely and confidentially for the support they need and deserve.”
The state hotline is a special project of the Division of Victim Services within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Day-to-day operations are conducted by the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“The hotline is a resource for victims and survivors whether they were assaulted yesterday or 40 years ago,” said Debi Cain, director of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board and acting director of the Michigan Division of Victim Services. “This is a big step forward for Michigan and fills a significant gap. While there are a number of excellent community-based sexual assault programs in the state, there are some areas of Michigan that have no services or very limited services available to victims of sexual assault and abuse. For them, the hotline will be a free and confidential lifeline.”
The hotline is not intended for reporting sexual assaults to law enforcement. Those who wish to file a police report should call 911 or local law enforcement.
“We are honored to be able to manage this important project,” said Sarah Prout Rennie, Executive Director of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. “The hotline calls are not time limited and a survivor may call as many times as needed. This will be a lifeline for survivors from across the lifespan, and we want to emphasize that wherever you are in your journey we are here to help.”