Words By: Courtney Mitchell

The refuge house opened up its doors to their new center last Monday in the big bend area and has already been officially open for two months. SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam)  center is a shelter that aids those victims of domestic violence.

SAFE provides medical services, counseling, and an interview room where victims can speak with law enforcement officers about their situation. The SAFE center is located next to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital on Hodges Drive.

Tallahassee Public Information Officer, David Northway, shared why the refuge house has been a great partner over course of 15 years.

“The Refuge House is a wonderful safe haven for victims of domestic violence. It is a good resource that our officers utilize on a day to day basis,” Northway said.

RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. According to their website, every 109 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault.

Leon County Sheriff Officer, Kevin Tim, stated his excitement about the new shelter opening in the collegetown.

“Rape culture and victim blaming is prevalent on college campuses around the country. It is no secret that Florida State has went through investigation for how they handled the Jameis Winston case. And with the outcome of the Brock Turner case in Stanford, it will be beneficial for victims to have an off-campus option to resort to,” Tim said.

According to their website, their mission is to supply direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to their children and families, as well as to eliminate such violence through community education and public advocacy.

Florida State student, Ashanty Cox, shared why the SAFE center will enhance the community.

“Establishments such as this will provide a comfortable environment for those victims that need to escape the people that are perpetuating violence towards them. Once they are separated from these individuals, they will be able to begin rehabilitation and take back control of their lives,” Cox said.

Through 2012 and 2013, Refuge House responded to 2,866 domestic violence-related hotline calls, and 740 sexual assault calls. 385 women, children and men sought safety in their  emergency shelters. 1302 survivors reached out for assistance in securing protective orders through their Leon County Courthouse office, and 1201 survivors gained healing and hope in counselling and therapy, according to their website.

According to Cox, this establishment will create a comfortable environment for victims of violence.

“Domestic violence is often occured by people close to us, not strangers, so escaping a violent roommate or partner is imperative. This shelter is very important for victims to be able to share their situation in a unbiased, safe atmosphere,” said Cox.

The Refuge House hopes the center will be a space for survivors that vary in race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, language spoken, marital status, or veteran. All services at the center are free of charge.

If you or someone you know is in need of sexual assault services, call the Refuge House hotline at (850) 681-2111.


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