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Healing

Mosaic Vermont welcomes and offers support to all people in Washington County, VT. We recognize the value of each individual and believe in every person’s right to bodily safety, freedom, and self-determination. Access to services and healing should not be limited by any systems or experiences that marginalize people, including but not limited to: ability, language, gender or sexuality, race, housing, income, rural living, or lack of transportation.

Our advocates support and empower individuals who have experienced harm to take steps toward healing. We support people to identify their needs and take the steps that feel right for them. Our commitment to healing is lifelong, individualized, and can be full of ups and downs.

We recognize that each personal and community experience of sexual harm is unique and complicated. Experiences of harm and responses to them can be varied and different for each person. We honor all the feelings and responses that people may experience. We welcome people to reach out even when they aren’t sure where their experience fits into the spectrum of sexual violence.

Support and Advocacy

Mosaic provides one on one services that are individualized to support each person’s needs and goals. Speaking with an advocate can help you process what happened or how you’re feeling, help you understand your options, or help you locate other resources. Our advocates are trained to explain your options and support you in whatever choice you make.

People reach out to Mosaic to:

  • Ask questions about sexual violence

  • Find a path from harm to healing

  • Understand physical and emotional responses to sexual harm

  • Learn more about how to support someone they know who has been harmed

  • Get support in accessing community resources

  • Work to gain an understanding of what their experience was

  • Ask about available medical care, get support at a sexual assault nurse examination (SANE) or other appointments

  • Ask about what happens if they choose to make a report to law enforcement

  • Get support with emergency housing or financial expenses following harm

  • Get connected to mental health resources

  • Ask about legal protection orders or other legal options

  • Talk about safe sex work or exiting trafficking

Forensic Nurse Exams

Seeking medical attention is recommended after sexual assault whether or not you choose to report to law enforcement. If you’re over the age of 18, seeking medical care does not mean that you need to report the assault to law enforcement. After experiencing sexual harm there are serious things to consider like STI’s, pregnancy, and injury. There is a specific procedure for individuals who have experienced sexual harm called a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE). This is a voluntary exam done by a specially trained nurse. SANEs provide compassionate medical care and careful evidence collection but the program also helps to address your emergent needs after assault and give you access to free resources. Forensic evidence can be collected up to 120 hours after the assault but individuals of all genders and all ages are encouraged to seek medical care at any time after an assault.

These exams are free; the cost is covered by the Vermont Center for Crime and Victim Services. To request this service, go to the Emergency Room and tell the nurse that you are there for a SANE. An Advocate will meet you at the hospital to support you through this process and help you understand all your options and resources.

If you have any questions, we recommend that you speak with a Mosaic Advocate who can walk you through your options, tell you step by step what to expect during a SANE, and accompany you to the hospital. Requesting a SANE is voluntary and every step of the exam or suggested treatment can be declined. Your choices matter.

Reporting/Court

Reporting means telling law enforcement that you were sexually assaulted. You can choose whether or not to report. If you are under the age of 18 and you seek medical care for an assault, a report will be made to Family Services. You get to decide whether you think reporting is right for you. Regardless of whether or not you choose to report the assault, help is available around the clock from trained sexual assault advocates.

Reporting is a big decision but it is not one you need to make alone or make right now. We recommend talking with a confidential advocate to weigh your options but it can be helpful to talk with a trusted friend.

If you chose to report:

  • It’s understandable to be nervous about reporting. You can ask an advocate to support and accompany you through this process. You can go in person to the police station or call and schedule a time to meet an officer. You’ll want to speak with the police who serve the town where the assault occurred. If you’re not sure who this is, or can’t get there, that’s okay; getting yourself in contact with any police agency is a good step.
  • You will need to tell as much of your story as you are comfortable with. This can be a hard conversation to have; some people find it helpful to write down notes or important things so they don’t forget. The officer may ask you some questions to clarify or get at important details but this is not an interview or interrogation; it is a time for you to share what happened.
  • If you are feeling unsafe and are interested in a protective order, you can ask an advocate or a police officer about your options.

Here are some of the services we provide:

  • 24/7 helpline
  • Emotional and crisis support, confidential except in in cases where abuse or neglect of a person under the age of 18
  • Referrals to and support in accessing community services programs
  • Economic advocacy
  • Medical advocacy at Sexual Assault Nurse Exams (SANEs)
  • Emergency shelter and housing advocacy
  • Safety planning
  • Prevention training, education, and community organizing
  • Support with reporting, police, and legal systems

And much more!

Shelter

Mosaic’s emergency shelter program offers an opportunity to rest, assess, and rebuild following sexual harm.

Shelter programming includes a period of rest and attention to basic needs, connection to options and resources for permanent housing, and support in accessing mental and physical health resources. Mosaic advocates nurture connections between others in the shelter program, access to community programs and resources, and opportunities to explore individualized healing needs.

Three apartment units offer temporary use, including an accessible efficiency, a 2-3 bedroom family unit, and a one bedroom unit. These serve people of all genders and ages who are homeless due to the impacts of sexual violence.

If you are in need of shelter due to sexual violence, please visit our website to learn more, or contact Mosaic’s helpline.

How to Help Someone You Know

Listen

Listen to what they have to say. They may not want to share much information or they may be ready to share a lot of details; let them share whatever is comfortable. Try to listen and support them without asking a lot of questions, it can be overwhelming or upsetting. They may choose to only share certain details with you and that’s okay.

Affirm

It can be difficult for people to share their story; acknowledge this and remind the person that it is not their fault. Support them in finding what next steps are right for them. It may take some time to make decisions and they may change their mind, that’s okay. Let them know that you are there to support them even if things change.

Respect their Emotions

Experiences of harm and responses to those experiences are different for each person and may be different from how you would react. All responses to harm and emotions are valid; respect them and let the person know how they’re feeling is okay.

Be Supportive of their Choices.

Each person gets to decide what happens after harm whether they want to report, get a forensic exam, or tell anyone about the assault. Let the person decide what is right for them, even if it’s not the decision you would make. Let them know you are going to be there for them during any next steps they take. When discussing options, be careful of the language you use; let the person define their experience in their own terms.

Offer Resources

Knowing your local resources can help your loved one take the steps they want toward support, medical attention, or reporting. Not sure of your local resources, give us a call and we can help.

Other Network Resources

map of vermont with vermont network organizations

Mosaic is a member program of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, an organization committed to uprooting the causes of sexual and domestic violence in Vermont. Mosaic, which serves all of Washington County, is one of fifteen member organizations that together serve all fourteen counties.

If you are not located in Washington County but looking for support, this map below may help you identify an organization in your area. If you’re not sure who to talk to, reach us to us and we can help connect you!

For more information on other Network Programs visit the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website: vtnetwork.org

Beginning to Heal

Everyone responds to harm differently; there is no right way to be feeling. Mosaic advocates can provide a listening ear, help you sort through your thoughts and responses, and offer some possible explanations for some of the ways you may be feeling. After you’ve experienced trauma, it’s important to take care of yourself mentally as well as physically. Trauma can make us feel physically and mentally drained so we recommend brainstorming a few ways to help yourself feel grounded. Self care can look different for everyone. Focus at first on things that help you feel safe.

Tips

  1. Identify your triggers. Understanding what things make you uncomfortable or cause you sudden stress and anxiety can help you know when you’ll need to recenter.
  2. Work on a strategy for emergency self care. Sometimes we get caught off guard by our emotions. Having solid steps set up to calm us down can be really helpful. This may mean stepping outside, going for a walk, talking to a friend, or finding a quiet place to breathe.
  3. Think about your support system. Trauma can feel isolating but you are not alone. Your support system can include advocates, counselors, family, friends, support groups, or whomever you feel comfortable with.
  4. Listen to your body. There might be some things that you’re uncomfortable doing or talking about; that’s okay. Listen to your body to understand what it needs for you to feel safe and in control.
  5. Know that it’s okay to take a break. We have the capacity for different responses in different situations. Sometimes you may need to walk away from a situation or conversation and that’s okay.