Louisiana, One of Only Four States, Takes a Lead Role for Survivors of Sexual Assault With Its New Service

Published 2:56 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

BATON ROUGE – January 12, 2022) The Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LaFASA) would like to announce its new statewide text and chat Helpline services. LaFASA’s mission is to empower survivors of sexual assault. To better meet that goal, they have recently added text-based crisis services to their Helpline (previously only accessible by phone) with trained Crisis Support Specialists. This is a significant addition to survivor services as Louisiana is now one of only four states in the country providing such an invaluable resource. (The other states are Arizona, Maine, and Virginia.) Most hotlines are regional and call-in only.
“We are very excited to be a trailblazer for our state and be able to offer this tool that empowers those directly or indirectly affected by sexual violence,” says Rafael de Castro, Executive Director of LaFASA. “It’s been a long road; much of last year was spent creating the workflow and training materials necessary to guarantee our advocates were properly trained in chat / text crisis support in order to provide services at the highest level. I am so proud of the work done by our program coordinator Katie Boleware and the Helpline advocates, along with the support of the entire LaFASA team, to ensure all 64 parishes in Louisiana are receiving this much needed crisis support service.”
The added service accommodates those who do not want to or cannot verbally communicate, but would like to understand options available to them where they are located. Crisis Support Specialists have access to a vast resource bank that includes organizations and providers specific to each parish in Louisiana. The Helpline provides a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to reach survivors and loved ones indirectly affected, who need answers or just need to connect with someone who will listen to what’s happening. Katie Boleware, LMSW and LaFASA Crisis Chat Intervention Program Coordinator elaborates, “Survivors and their loved ones have many questions. They may not know what their next step is, they may not know who provides services and many prefer to text instead of talk, and fortunately the Helpline is available to them. Crisis Support Specialists are trained to communicate with compassion, create a safety plan and connect visitors to long term support in their area.” At a time when sexual assault and harassment continues to rise, yet remains underreported, the Helpline text / chat service offers an avenue that is private, anonymous, free and confidential and aids survivors and their loved ones to regain and maintain control over their choices.

Helpline contact details are being promoted in all parishes through a means of printed materials, including window and mirror decals, posters, and table tents. If your facility or business would like to have the Helpline information visible, LaFASA will provide materials of your choice at no cost to you by contacting Kelli@lafasa.org.
If you or a loved one has been affected by sexual assault we encourage you to contact the Helpline by Text: 225-351-SAFE (7233) M-Th 12N-8PM (not available on holidays), Chat: lafasa.org M-Th 12N-8PM (not available on holidays) or Phone: 1-888-995-7372 (english & spanish) 24 hrs/7days per week. If you have a sexual assault emergency, call 911 or find your local sexual assault center at LaFASA.org.

LaFASA is the coalition agency that serves statewide sexual assault crisis centers through education, professional training, technical assistance, and community engagement resulting in safer, healthier, stronger, and better-informed communities throughout Louisiana. LaFASA also provides advocacy and legal services directly to survivors and cultivates prevention in our communities. For further information regarding the Helpline or other resources please go to lafasa.org or call LaFASA’s office at 225-372-8995.