Wednesday, April 03, 2019

A Word from Healing Hearts Crisis Center

Healing from sexual assault is never easy. The journey to recovery from trauma takes time, and requires both immediate and long-term services built upon the foundation of understanding that trauma takes many forms, is often overlapping and can be re-experienced in many ways.
The Healing Hearts Crisis Center (HHCC) is Guam’s only Rape Crisis Center. As a division of the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, HHCC exists with the intent to provide survivors of sexual assault with “discrete, immediate and full medical attention.” 

HHCC incorporates a holistic approach for the survivor of sexual assault or abuse. Regardless of when the assault occurred or the age, ethnicity, gender or disability of the survivor, HHCC offers a supportive, healing atmosphere with caring professionals to assist survivors in regaining feelings of safety, control, trust, autonomy and self-esteem. The HHCC team works together to ensure all survivors receive the services they need to begin and sustain the healing process after sexual assault or abuse. HHCC services include intake assessment and crisis intervention, forensic and multi-disciplinary team interviews, short term case management and linkage to other needed services such as individual and family therapy. HHCC also provides medical services including forensic examinations and collection of forensic evidence, as well as outreach and training to schools, service providers and the community at large.

Sexual violence can have long-term negative effects for survivors and their families; statistics state that survivors of sexual violence are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. The fear, powerlessness and hopelessness that results from such a personal trauma can make the thought of reaching out for help feel impossible.

As difficult and painful as coping with sexual assault and abuse can be, Guam has many resources that work together to assist the most vulnerable in our community.  Government, community-based and faith-based organizations work together to provide survivors a streamlined process that minimizes retraumatization. HHCC works with members of Guam’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to provide a coordinated, efficient, and supportive response to victims of sexual assault. Often times navigating the system of response is a huge barrier to accessing needed services. The SART works together to ensure that no matter at what point a victim or family member enters the system, they will be provided the appropriate guidance and support to access the services they need.
The Healing Hearts Crisis Center operates Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. Due to the sensitive nature of the work we do, we prefer appointments to be made by calling 647-5351. After hours crisis services are also available through the same contact number. HHCC works with GBHWC Crisis Hotline to ensure availability of response 24/7.

“There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.” – Mother Teresa

Submitted by: Maresa Pereda Aguon, Healing Hearts Program Manager

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