***URGENT ALERT: IOWA SEXUAL ABUSE HOTLINE DEFUNDED***
Earlier this year, the Iowa Legislature decided to cut state funding for victim services by 26% in fiscal year 2018. This week the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) learned that the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline (ISAH), the statewide hotline hosted by RVAP since 1999, will be defunded as of October 1st, 2017. ISAH provides 24-hour phone counseling, support, information and referrals to anyone affected by sexual violence directly or indirectly. All of our support is confidential, trauma-informed, and culturally-competent.
Eliminating funding to this statewide resource will set victim services in Iowa back in profound ways. The timing of this decision to defund ISAH is incredibly troubling. In the past two years, ISAH has experienced a 647% increase in call volume, and is projected to receive nearly 4,000 calls this fiscal year alone! While there are other hotlines available to survivors of sexual abuse, historically, when victim services are combined into one program, survivors of sexual violence are the ones who become underserved. It was for this reason that ISAH was originally established as a critical resource for persons who experience barriers and/or conflict of interest when accessing services. Persons who call the ISAH are offered immediate support as well as information to connect with services in their local areas and communities. ISAH also provides roll-over services to sister centers in the state, answering their hotlines during non-business hours, weekends and holidays. This service allows these agencies to focus their finite resources on other services, while still ensuring that those in need of support are able to access to confidential, trauma-informed support 24/7. To eliminate this critical service for survivors of sexual violence will push Iowa back decades.
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