Sexual assault center opens in Vidalia

VIDALIA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

VIDALIA, GA (WTOC) -A domestic violence shelter in Toombs County is now expanding their services. The Refuge is now a sexual assault center, as well as a domestic violence shelter.

The Refuge opened in 2003 as a domestic violence shelter. It recently became a sexual assault center making this a dual facility right here in Vidalia.

The Refuge has been helping victims of domestic violence with a number of services for years. It has been an emergency shelter for people to stay and has provided legal help. Now, the center is expanding its services for sexual assault victims.

The new facility offers on-site medical exams, a place to collect evidence, and special interview rooms for law enforcement to meet with victims. Executive Director Michelle Girtman says this is the 23rd state certified sexual assault center in the state of Georgia. She says these centers are a place she hopes victims feel comfortable at and can go to for the treatment they may need.

“If you go into the hospital, hospitals are great, but there’s lots of patients, different kinds of illnesses, different kinds of things they see," says Girtman. "Here, we are more specific. We only do one thing – the sexual assault examination, the advocacy component for the victim. So, here, they are going to get the one-on-one attention they need.”

A flyer for The Refuge advertises their services as free and confidential. They have a 24-hour toll free crisis line at 1-800-33HAVEN.

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