April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Michigan’s Sexual Assault Hotline, 855-VOICES4, is still operating 24/7 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Providing support for Michigan’s survivors of sexual assault is an essential service that remains in place during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The hotline was launched in 2018 to provide immediate crisis counseling and referrals to local community-based sexual assault programs and programs that provide sexual assault medical forensic examinations across the state.
In 2019, Whitmer announced an expansion to the hotline that allows survivors to text 866-238-1454 for counseling support.
Raising public awareness about sexual assault and educating communities about how to prevent it are the center of the national campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
However, a “stay at home order” was issued in Michigan in order to slow the spread of the disease caused by a new coronavirus and remains in effect until April 30, and domestic and sexual violence survivors might be in dangerous situations for longer periods of time.
As previously reported by the Advance, the U.S. Department of Justice says one in four women and one in nine men experience severe physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
Additionally, extra social isolation brought on by the “stay at home order” can allow abusers to gain greater control over survivors.
The Michigan Department of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can provide survivors access to the Division of Victim Services (DVS). DVS advocates on behalf of victims and survivors of crime across the state.
In addition, DVS funds programs that provide comprehensive services to Michigan crime victims, including compensation for injury, counseling, victim advocacy through prosecutors’ offices and nonprofit organizations, victims’ rights services and victim notification through Michigan Victim Information and Notification Everyday or MI-VINE.
MI-VINE is a confidential 24-hour service that provides timely access to offender data for crime victims, their families, and the general public.
The service also allows crime victims to receive notice of the custody status of an offender and provides access to reliable information about criminal cases.