History and Mission
Family Violence & Rape Crisis Services (FVRC) was founded in 1982 by concerned local citizens to provide services to battered women and sexual assault victims in Chatham County. FVRC is a comprehensive rural program that works to stop domestic violence and sexual assault through a three-pronged approach: intervention, advocacy and prevention. This holistic approach increases client safety, long-term health and well being while building a safer, healthier community.
Over the past 27 years, FVRC’s services have greatly expanded from the initial 24-hour crisis line. Now there is comprehensive intervention through community and court advocacy, which provides assistance navigating the justice, social services and health care systems. Additionally, there are support groups, shelter, long-term individual and family counseling, children’s programs, parenting education, and services to batterers. FVRC provides extensive professional training, a system-wide school program, and a coordinated community response to domestic and sexual violence.
FVRC’s intervention and advocacy programs work in close coordination with county health care providers. Advocates assist clients in accessing health care and can accompany clients to medical appointments, when appropriate. For sexual assault survivors, an advocate is present during all examinations related to the assault. FVRC is often the first point of access to mental health care and substance abuse services, as well. Each victim who meets with an advocate at least twice crafts a plan to increase immediate safety and maps out long-term health and safety goals. In 2008, the agency served 582 victims of domestic violence and 155 victims of sexual assault.
Through work with the Chatham County Health Department, Chatham Hospital and other local providers, FVRC has increased identification of victims to ensure they receive care that addresses violence and its impact on long-term health. FVRC has been particularly effective in reaching and training medical students. In the area of sexual assault, the number of cases reported to law enforcement is only a fraction of those reported to FVRC (less than 5%). By breaking down taboos about discussing rape and working collaboratively with the medical community, FVRC helps many victims come forward to receive the treatment and support they need.
FVRC’s prevention approach includes sponsorship of the Coalition for Family Peace, which is Chatham County’s coordinated community response. The Coalition brings together representatives from more than 30 organizations (justice, health, education, business and faith) and individual community members. The program works to streamline the county’s response to domestic and sexual violence through collaborative planning and by raising awareness through trainings, an annual conference and community events. Such collaborations help bring FVRC’s message to more people.