SafeShelby clinic to open for sexual assault survivors

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

PELHAM – SafeShelby, a new sexual assault services clinic, is set to open in Pelham on Dec. 1.

A ribbon cutting was held on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to celebrate to opening of the clinic.

SafeShelby is the result of a partnership between SafeHouse and Shelby County that will provide services for survivors of sexual assault who live in Shelby, Coosa, Clay, and Chilton counties. Forensic exams will be available to all sexual assault survivors ages 14 and older.

SafeShelby provides services such as forensic exams, counseling and legal advocacy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additional services for survivors of sexual assault include counseling, resource referrals and safe shelter.

All SafeShelby sexual assault services are free and confidential and are available with or without a forensic examination. Funding for the program is provided by the Office on Violence Against Women and the Victims of Crime Act.

In addition to the SafeShelby clinic, SafeHouse also operates a 56-bed shelter and an office that provides domestic violence services, said Executive Director Erin Bodden. SafeHouse directly helped more than 400 people last year, Bodden said.

Bodden said all SafeShelby forensic exams will be performed by sexual assault nurse examiners in a confidential and secure facility.

“We have a 24/7 availability of nurse examiners who are trained to handle sexual assault cases. Our nurse examiners are specially trained on aspects of trauma and they know the best ways to work with and support victims,” Bodden said. “We also have advocates who are trained to meet the emotional needs of victims.”

Sexual assault nurse examiners collect evidence that may later be used in the prosecution of an assailant. Everyone who receives a forensic exam will be offered follow-up care.

“We go beyond the forensic exam to offer support as victims go through the healing process,” Bodden said.

For more information or to make an appointment at SafeShelby, visit www.safehouse.org or call 669-7233.