Sexual Assault Advocacy

The Benedict Center provides culturally competent sexual assault advocacy services aimed at supporting women in the street-based sex trade who are victims of sexual assault and/or trafficking in their efforts to achieve justice and healing. 

Due to stigmatization and discrimination, women involved with substance use and/or the sex trade may be denied equal access to justice and healing as victims of sexual assault crimes. They are also very likely to have experienced a long history of complex trauma.  

Treatment at the Benedict Center

Sisters Program Sexual Assault Advocates provide personal advocacy to women in the street-based sex trade, which includes women who are sex trafficked and those who are victims of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and other crimes. 

We strive to use a trauma responsive care approach to better serve clients who have experienced trauma. Trauma responsive treatment practices can help to avoid re-traumatizing women. For example, when working with women, the question becomes "What happened to you?" vs. "What is wrong with you?".

A 2015 study of the women in our Sisters Program found that 72.5% reported five or more adverse childhood events such as abuse, abandonment, sexual assault; 39.2% experienced violent injury in the past 12 months; and 23.5% were sexually assaulted in the past 12 months. Nearly 40% first entered the sex trade under the age of 18. (Farahzad, M, 2015).

"Understanding the impact of trauma and the issue of triggers is particularly important when working with women in the criminal justice system. Experiences in the criminal justice system can trigger memories of earlier abuse. Incarceration can be traumatizing in itself, and the racism and class discrimination that are characteristic of the criminal justice system can be even more traumatizing."
(Covington, Stephanie. "Core Element in Women's Treatment", Counselor-Magazine, August 2015.)

Sisters Sexual Assault Advocates assist and support women to stabilize their lives and work to restore a measure of safety and security based on goals and plans women develop. Goals may include progress on securing permanent safe housing, mental health or substance use treatment, medication compliance, education, employment, reconnection with family, resolution of legal obligations, obtaining public assistance, addressing health issues, etc.

All women are screened to determine if they are a victim of crime and educated about their rights as a victim of crime and eligibility for crime victim assistance. The Benedict Center is accredited by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault as a Sexual Assault Service Provider. Our Sisters Program provides best practice victim-centered advocacy and support services in collaboration with OCVS, WCASA, and other partners (VOCA, End Domestic Abuse WI)

We connect with law enforcement, prosecution, health care, and victim service providers to share information about barriers that women in the sex trade face when they are victims of assault and sex trafficking and attempt to seek justice and healing.