Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center’s Rape Treatment Center (RTC) is nationally renowned and has helped more than 30,000 victims of sex crimes since opening its doors in 1974.
The RTC’s free services, include 24-hour emergency medical care, evidentiary examinations, professional counseling, advocacy, accompaniment and other support services.
A key component of the center is the Stuart House private/public sector partnership that was launched in 1988 to help improve the treatment for children who have been molested, and aide in the apprehension and prosecution of sexual predators. Stuart House literature states, “It is estimated that about one out of every four girls and one out of every eight boys are sexually abused before they reach eighteen years of age.” The Stuart House provides a comprehensive approach to child molestation by coordinating needed services from different agencies for victims under one roof. House team members include Child Advocates, Deputy District Attorneys, law enforcement investigators, and Department of Children and Family Service workers
Another key aspect of the center is its sexual crime prevention education programs and victim assistance programs for businesses, schools, and community organizations. Dianne Talarico, Superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, mentioned at the School Board’s last meeting that the District will continue to implement the curricula from the RTC, “Road to Respect” in the District’s middle schools and “Date Rape” in the high schools.
RTC’s “Roads to Respect” program states that its goal is to “help schools respond to student-to-student sexual harassment” by raising awareness and training students in prevention skills. Students receive training through classroom discussions, role-playing and writing exercises as well as opportunities to meet individually with program staff. The program also provides workshops for administrators and teachers. The center also has a prevention/educational program for college students called the National Campus Rape Campaign.
RTC Director Gail Abarbanel explained that, “Most victims (of sexual crimes) don’t disclose because of their fears about the consequences of telling and the shame they feel. When victims don’t disclose they don’t get the help they need to cope with the aftermath.” The RTC programs and services were designed to help victims overcome these issues.
Abarbanel also emphasized that all center services are completely free and therefore victims are not “asked for any financial information.” The multi-million dollar budget for the center is funded through grants and private and community donations. She also stressed that the center’s services “are not limited to residents of Santa Monica.”More information on rape and sexual assault can be found at the RTC’s website, www.911rape.org. Center counselors can be reached at 310.319.4000.