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Victims of Sexual Assualt Can Now Seek Help on the Web

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FAYETTEVILLE — When someone is raped, expressing their pain to others can be extremely difficult. A new program is trying to reach out to rape victims without ever knowing who they are.

Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County has launched a newWeb site. Victims of sexual violence can now go online anonymously and seek help.

"Jan," 29, was molested as a child. Since then, she has tried to commit suicide five times. This year, she finally went for counseling.

"Having the face-to-face contact with someone, it scares you," she says.

Counselors realize that victims are scared. So now, crisis volunteers in Cumberland County are trying to help people through their computers.

"Sexual violence is still this type of crime that has so much stigma to it," says Renee Candelaria-Brent, executive director of the organization.

"People are still so ashamed, and they feel they brought it upon themselves and won't come forward. With so many people online these days, why not?" she says.

The group hopes to use the Internet to give victims the confidentiality they need to address the shame and guilt they feel.

Rape Crisis was able to start their Web site through two private grants. Along with safety tips and an outline of state and military law, victims can sign on with a fake name and seek counseling.

The volunteers are also working on a message board, which will enable victims to share their stories and realize they are not alone.


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