The NCCASA Rural Project is founded on the knowledge that rural survivors and rural rape crisis centers have experiences that are unique to them. I have heard from rural advocates that they often feel isolated and disconnected from other RCCs and work being done on a statewide level. We want to work to close some of those gaps. Rural advocates show great creativity and resilience supporting survivors across large service areas, in towns that often lack the necessary resources and need more sexual violence community education. It is hard to do this work. But you are doing it everyday and you are valued.
Similarly, I have heard from rural survivors the barriers that exist for them to safely access services in their rural areas. Barriers such as transportation, technology access, feeling like they can seek truly confidential services (because we know it’s impossible to leave the house without running into someone we know). The survivors in our rural areas often aren’t sure where to go to seek services and even if they do, how do they know it’s safe? Rural survivors with marginalized identities have even more barriers to asking for help, how can we break down some of these barriers?
I know, from growing up in a rural town myself, that the church, the Wal-Mart, and the Hardee’s are not just places for worship, grocery shopping, and eating, they’re places to socialize. They’re where people go to get their community news and gossip fix. As rural service providers, knowing this, we can use it to our advantage to find creative ways to connect with survivors. Providing services in a rural community calls for more flexibility and willingness to think outside the box.
You all are the experts. You have the ideas and the knowledge to create holistic, sustainable services to meet survivor’s needs, but it can be hard to feel like it is possible to put these ideas into action when you’re wearing 3 different hats. I am here to help you come up with steps to implement these practices and offer my support along the way.
Some of the things I can help with are: helpline/ crisis line services, medical/ hospital advocacy, advocacy skills, creating more culturally competent services, community outreach, support groups, and the list goes on. If there’s a question you have or something you want more resources on, I will do my best to provide those resources to you and provide them with a rural community lens.
My support is not only available to rural programs. Our urban RCCs often have rural coverage areas and are working with rural survivors. I want to talk with you too!
My commitment is to the survivor. To create safe, trauma- informed, long-term support. I know that’s yours too. Let’s do it together.
Leah Poole, Rural SA Specialist
The purpose of this group is to create space for advocates working in rural areas to come together. This group can be used to share resources, ask questions, brainstorm with one another, and/or just be in community together. If you would like to join this listserv, contact Leah Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.