April represents Sexual Assault Awareness month and all of the resources available to survivors. The Prevention and Advocacy Center (PARC) is a sexual assault prevention and advocacy center that primarily serves both teens and adults in Haralson, Caroll and Heard counties. This program is intended to treat both primary clients (victims who have been directly impacted) and secondary clients (loved ones).
PARC’s mission for this organization is to amplify the voices of all survivors. Advocates are available after an assault through their program and remain present throughout the entire legal process.
“Our advocates can go to criminal justice interviews,” said Rob Dial, Executive Director of PARC. “If they decide to have the perpetrator be interviewed by the police to make a charge, they can go with them to the police department and support them through that process.”
PARC also provides prevention programs to educate young people about the causes of intrapersonal violence and sexual assault. They visit local schools throughout the community from September to the middle of April, educating over 5000 students.
“We do programming with students as young as kindergarten and all the way through ninth grade in high school,” said Dial.
PARC will also participate in community programming with partners such as the local domestic violence shelter and the child advocacy program throughout the year.
“It’s important that people understand there are a lot of wrap around services available in the community, the kind that can meet different needs of different people,” said Dial.
To provide the best possible care to victims, this organization strives to provide specialized experts with experience in various areas of abuse, such as domestic, child and even child sexual abuse.
PARC works hard to educate and serve the community. There are two annual awareness events hosted including the teen violence awareness event in February and a community conversation in honor of sexual assault awareness month in April.
“[The community conversation] will be focused on teens and relationships and how parents can kind of support young people through their transitions of adolescence and young adulthood,” said Dial.
The next community-based awareness event will be held at City Station on Maple St. on Tuesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. This event is completely free and open to the public.
Individuals interested in volunteering with the PARC can take advantage of internships and training courses. To be approved and have contact with clients, you must complete a minimum of 20 hours of training and pass a federal background check. Individuals interested in volunteering should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s an eight-module training and covers everything from basic communication skills and confidentiality all the way through victim centered response, trauma informed care and basic advocacy models,” said Dial. “It’s actually based upon a federal training called victims assistance from the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.”
Numerous resources are provided for those affected by sexual assault, with the goal of making the client feel safe and comfortable.
“We have found over the last several years most clients prefer to seek counseling because they want that one-on-one time, but we can absolutely help clients find support groups if that’s something they want to do,” said Dial.
PARC is a state-certified counseling center that offers free and confidential counseling with qualified, licensed professional counselors for victims of sexual assault as well as counseling for loved ones. The first step is to inquire about services with a PARC advocate. The office phone number is 770-834-8905. Furthermore, for those in need of immediate assistance, PARC provides a 24-hour crisis line at 770-834-7273.
“You have rights as a victim of assault and it’s important for you to know that you should expect confidentiality and support,” said Dial.
The website also provides a variety of information and frequently asked questions about the next steps to take if you or a loved one has been assaulted, as well as reassuring the victim that they are not alone. More information is available at www.wgaparc.org.
“It is really a difficult time for people, and we want to make sure PARC is a program where all are welcome, feel respected and heard.”
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