Pictured from left, President of BAMA Roger Dean, Mary Mattingly, SP Community Outreach Director and Jane Yorn, Executive Director of Safe Passage.Batesville, In. — Services to survivors of Sexual Assault throughout Southeast Indiana will be increasing greatly over the course of this year. Safe Passage, Inc. has been awarded funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) to develop a comprehensive Rape Crisis Center that will serve individuals who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their life.Since 1997, Safe Passage has been the sole provider of domestic violence victim support services in six counties in Southeast Indiana. The 30-bed shelter is based in Batesville.Currently, Indiana has only three Rape Crisis Centers while neighboring states of Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois have 89, 57, and 39 respectively. “Our Board and agency leadership has been examining the need for sexual assault services for more than two years” states Jane Yorn, Executive Director for Safe Passage. “While the 20 year Mission of Safe Passage has been to support the needs of those living with domestic violence, we feel the addition of sexual assault services aligns very well with the core of our work – providing help, healing and hope to survivors of intensely personal acts of violence.”With the support of state funders, the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault (ICESA), and local leaders, Safe Passage will be offering everything from a Rape Crisis HelpLine, free counseling and support groups for survivors, hospital and legal advocacy, outreach services and bystander intervention and prevention programs.Batesville Area Ministerial Association (BAMA) was one of the first local partners to reach out and offer assistance. With their allocation of $25,000, infrastructure for the Batesville-based crisis HelpLine is being developed, a 10 week sexual assault survivors Bible Study will launch this April, as well as other direct support programming.“We are currently hiring professional staff to develop and meet the needs specific to survivors of sexual violence. Many individuals have a painful experience in their past and have never had the opportunity to work through that hurt. We will have programs and supports to assist those survivors as well as those in immediate crisis.” states Yorn.Additional information about the Rape Crisis Center and its programs will be released in the coming weeks. The Choosing Victory faith-based group study will be held in Batesville and start on April 11th. Email [email protected] for more information.