SAFE center will offer sexual assault victims free, confidential support


    Sexual assault survivors in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama will soon have new resources available 24 hours a day.

    The SAFE center will open to the public October 15th, serving nine counties in West Alabama. Victims of sexual assault ages 14 and older can get help confidentially and free of charge.

    "There were a lot of community leaders that had the vision for a center like this and saw the need," Executive Director Pam Jones said.

    The vision is a top-notch facility. The SAFE center will serve almost anyone, including thousands of students on the University of Alabama campus.

    "It is so crucial to have someone to talk to," Senior Kaylen Stine said, "It's important to know someone to go to and have that information."

    The SAFE center is supported by UA, DCH Hospital, local law enforcement and the district attorney's office, among others.

    Jones said their mission is to give sexual assault victims options.

    "Sexual assault crosses all boundaries. It doesn't matter how old you are, what race you are, it doesn't matter your socioeconomic status," Jones said, "Sexual assault does occur. And when it occurs, people need a safe place to land."

    Nurses at the center, called SANEs, have highly specialized training. There are only six certified in the state of Alabama.

    "When something like this happens, people don't know where to go, where to turn, what to do," Jones said, "They've been traumatized in a way no one ever expects to be traumatized."

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