When sexual assault happens, people don't know whom to turn to or what to expect next. That's where the BRCC comes in, says Hayslett.
When a person experiences some sort of sexual trauma, whether it be rape, sexual harassment or something else, the BRCC can help with medical concerns, legal concerns and psychological concerns for the victim and family, and friends of the victim, Hayslett said. All BRCC services are free.
Staff members assist with all of the above, while volunteers assist only with medical advocacy and emotional support.
For example, a BRCC staff member or volunteer can make sure hospital staff collect medical evidence when a rape victim goes to the emergency room. If the victim decides to prosecute, a BRCC staff member can explain the victim's rights and how the criminal justice system works, and attend court hearings with the victim.
Throughout the process, the BRCC provides emotional support. This includes crisis counseling, as well as long-term counseling for adults who experienced sexual trauma as children.
One of the most important functions of the BRCC is "providing a confidential, nonjudgmental face who will listen to you and let you know it's not your fault," Hayslett said. She also said being able to do that is the best part of her job. Volunteers learn how to do this during the free 40-hour training session they are required to complete before volunteering.
The volunteers also learn about rape culture (the rape myths and stereotypes in U.S. culture), stages of trauma, how to handle crisis calls when they work the crisis line and legal information such as how the courts work, among other topics.
After training, a volunteer must carry a cell phone and be able to head to the hospital and provide whatever support is necessary for a victim, Hayslett said.
Volunteers also help the BRCC educate the public about sexual trauma. She said one of the most important things for people to realize is that "rape culture" greatly affects how sexual assault is thought of and how it is dealt with.
For example, a woman meets a man at a party and he asks her if she wants to go somewhere quieter. She agrees and goes to his apartment, where he rapes her.
"What's the first thing most people say?" Hayslett said. "That she shouldn't have gone with him. But what does that say about men? All men?"
Hayslett added that way of thinking leads to victims blaming themselves, wondering what they could have done differently.
"People aren't puppets," Hayslett said. "They're responsible for their own actions."
Hayslett also is sure to point out that not only women are victims - men get assaulted too, by men and women. For this reason, the BRCC must be sure there is always a male volunteer available in case a male victim requests a male advocate.
The BRCC does have a male volunteer. It has four volunteers total right now; two are active and two are on backup. Three other people are being trained. The center needs three to five more active volunteers to have the number it needs.
The next training session for volunteers will be June 6, 7, 14 and 21. Training is free. To sign up, call the local BRCC office at (859) 236-4445.
The BRCC's crisis line is (859) 253-2511 or toll free 800-656-HOPE.