ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – An Anchorage organization that provides support to victims of sexual violence is working to bolster the number of volunteers working for their 24/7 crisis response line.
Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) usually holds two 40 hour courses every year to train new crisis line responders. But in 2018, the organization plans to offer three courses due to the growing number of calls they’re receiving.
“The volume of calls is staggering because this is something that people are starting to come out and talk about,” said STAR development director Jennifer Brown. “There’s such a great need now for as many people as we can get. Not just answering the phone but educating the community too.”
Brown says the crisis line has gotten particularly busy in recent months as several nationwide campaigns against sexual violence have quickly gained momentum.
“Especially over the last six months,” Brown said. “We’re in the midst of #MeToo and No More and Times Up and so it’s very relevant right now. There are a lot of people that are recognizing that they need to speak up and so we’re there for those people.”
At the moment, STAR has about 40 volunteers managing its crisis line, which requires about 500 volunteer hours a month to answer calls outside of business hours. About 10 more volunteers are currently attending the first of three training courses to be offered this year. One of the trainees is Cody Phillips.
“I wanted to sign up to be a crisis line responder for STAR because I feel like there is an incredible need in any community really in the whole world to address the need of sexual assault and domestic violence,” Phillips said.
“What I didn’t know before I signed up to volunteer at STAR is that Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault in the entire country, and so that just really drove home this idea I had that I wanted to help.”