ASSIST Indiana – Towne Post Network
The local nonprofit serves victims of sexual, domestic and physical violence
Screenwriter / Julie Yates
Photographer / Brandi Caplinger
ASSIST Indiana serves people of all ages who have been directly or indirectly affected by sexual and physical abuse. ASSIST is the acronym for Advocacy, Specialized Services, Interventions and Support to Trauma Victims. The organization provides essential services locally and in surrounding areas. It serves as a rape crisis center for Johnson and surrounding counties, oversees the Johnson County Child Advocacy Center in conjunction with the Johnson County District Attorney.‘s Office and facilitates the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team.
Founded and now run by Jenny Lee, MSN, NP-C, SANE-A, its services are free and everything offered is optional. ASSIST provides trauma therapy, support groups, community resource referrals, crisis intervention, victim advocacy, case management and prevention education. This spring, thanks to a grant from the Indiana Department of Health and funds raised by Johnson County’s current class of Leadership, the organization will be able to provide forensic examinations. Currently, if the victim is a child, only Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis or a facility in Bloomington can provide these tests. Children must not eat, drink or go to the toilet before the procedure and often have to wait two to four hours before being seen.
“I‘I’m a nurse practitioner by trade from Eskenazi Health,” says Lee. “I founded ASSIST because I kept seeing victims take a back seat for many reasons. Things go unnoticed, other family members are in disbelief, or victims wonder if the abuse or incident was in their own heads. As a forensic nurse, I testified as an eyewitness to the injuries found. Sometimes the victim and I ended up in the elevator with, or were parked two cars away from the abuser who had just been sentenced to a light sentence. This is a blow for someone‘s self-esteem when they have exhausted health care and the legal system.
“Help comes out of the carpentry if someone is hit by a bus,” Lee continues. “Everyone sees it and everyone calls for help. This‘It’s common knowledge and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Here, if someone is a victim of physical violence or sexual abuse, there is nothing to see outwardly. No one asks how the healing is going. ASSIST’s goal is to provide a single, one-stop shop for services to help victims heal. »
Services provided include individual counseling and support groups. Each sufferer is unique with different needs, values and goals, so each treatment plan is individually tailored with input from the patient. Support groups are available even for those who are still suffering from an incident in the past, as evidenced by recurring nightmares or exhaustion.
Other facets of ASSIST are victim advocacy as well as prevention and education. In addition to connecting individuals with resources and programs within the community and state, attorneys can help file a protective order, either electronically or in person at the courthouse. Additionally, ASSIST offers free training for an adult Darkness to Light program called Stewards of Children, as well as Think First & Stay Safe for children in K-12.
ASSIST only uses highly trained professionals to work directly with victims and families, but they always need volunteers. They never refuse anyone‘time, talent or treasure. People can be used to answer the phone, sit in an information booth to raise funds, or even perform practical tasks like yard work or pro bono legal work. It is also important for the organization to keep discretionary funds on hand for emergencies that may arise in times of family crisis.
“He does not have‘It’s always been an easy road,” says Lee. “A lot of people think that because we’re a non-profit organization, we get all the funds we need through grants, but the grants are reduced every year. Their goal is to create an organization and get it started, but our need is ongoing. COVID put us in crisis. It allowed children to be in the homes of abusers. There was no outlet for help. Victims could‘not leaving or having someone to confide in, such as a school counselor or best friend. Violence is a health problem. It is a constant crisis which only‘t come and go. It’s all the time.”
ASSIST Indiana is located at 198 East Jefferson Street in Franklin. For more information, call 317-739-4456 or visit assistindiana.org.