Sexual Assault Services Organization, originally known as the Rape Intervention Team, was established in 1977 by a handful of grassroots volunteers recruited by a hospital social worker who had grown frustrated by the difficulties encountered by women seeking assistance for sexual assaults. Initially, services were offered only to victims seeking care at the hospital, but soon a 24-hour crisis line was added to enable SASO to anonymously and confidentially serve many more victims. Incorporated in 1989, SASO presently offers support and assistance provided by trained volunteer advocates and SASO staff that includes: 24-hour crisis intervention and counseling; medical and legal advocacy during forensic exams, law enforcement interviews, and court proceedings; emergency funding support for medicine, safe lodging, and food, weekly support groups and financial assistance for individual therapy; and multiple referrals to other agencies.
Over time, SASO developed more community awareness and prevention programs. In 1990, SASO added its first comprehensive prevention program, the Child Assault Prevention Program (CAPP), a school-based national curriculum that aims to lessen children's vulnerability to all forms of abuse including sexual abuse. In 2002, after determining that a third of SASO's hotline calls concerned teen victims, SASO developed comprehensive teen prevention programs. In 2009, the SASO prevention program was incorporated into the 9-R school district's curriculum. In 2011, SASO started the first-ever male support group for male victims of sexual assault in our region.
During 2016, SASO staff recognized the increased need for local underserved community members such as Native Americans, Latinos/Latinas/Latines, LGTBQ2S+, and the increasing Elder populations. We expanded our Outreach position into Cultural Outreach to better access and inform our community as a whole. All underserved populations experience a higher risk for sexual violence and assault and through this position, SASO has provided programming and presentations to 4,085 community members to increase skills, dialogue, and education on how to stop sexual violence. We continue to look for best practices in serving victims of sexual violence and all our community members.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual act or a sexual act that occurs without the consent or permission of parties involved. This can include a large range of behaviors that violate a person's space and safety in a sexual way. Sexual violence is a tool used to hold power over another person.
No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, and no one asks to be sexually assaulted because of their clothes, behavior, or lifestyle.