Recently, the Helper City Police Department received a grant for $14,000 from the state to set up a rape crisis line for residents in the Castle Valley area.
"We don't want anyone to view this center as just a place for Helper residents to call if they have a problem," pointed out Police Chief George Zaman-takis. "This is set up for all Carbon and Emery County citizens to use. That's one of the reasons we secured a toll-free number for the center."
The rape crisis line is set up to receive calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But the service, while called a rape crisis line, is not just for local residents who think they may have been raped. The hotline is for victims of domestic violence and other violent acts as well.
"When people call this line, they are not calling the police. They are calling someone who can help them with their problems and give them advice as to what to do in their situations," indicated Zamantakis.
"People can call anonymously. They don't have to give their names," explained Cherie Mills, who is the paid staffer for the service. "We are here to offer help and to secure services for those who need it. When people call this line they are not calling for police help, but for counseling on how to handle their situation."
Often, rape victims do not know where to turn for help, pointed out the Helper police chief. Frequently, people involved in the incidents are frightened, embarrassed about their situation, have a lot of fear about what will happen if they do or do not report the criminal acts and, most of all, aren't sure who to talk to about the matter.
"That's where we come in," explained Mills. "First, we are not here to judge whether someone has been raped or not. We are here to connect them to the proper resources for them to handle their problems."
The crisis line has not been set up to take anything away from other services in the county. On the contrary, the hotline has been created to supplement the existing services.
"We advise people on where to turn and what they should do," said Mills, who has gone through special training to handle situations she may encounter. "Right now, we are looking for five volunteers to help with the line. They will also receive the same kind of training."
In the event a person who calls the toll-free telephone hotline wants to report the incident to the police, Mills will hook the suspected rape victims up with the proper law enforcement agency.
"One of the things that people in this situation should know is that officers have to have certain evidence to file charges and that evidence can disappear very quickly in the case of a rape," indicated Zamantakis.
The Helper police chief advised Carbon and Emery County residents who think they have been raped to be careful about what they do before the speak to the police.
"For instance, often after this happens, people take baths or showers or change and wash clothes," explained Zamantakis.
"Actions such as these can lead to a very iffy case against a perpetrator. The hotline can advise people what do to keep evidence intact," indicated the Helper police chief.
While all crime is often underreported, rapes and sex offenses are far more likely not to be reported to official channels.
Therfore, in reality, no one knows how many sexual assaults really take place in the Castle Valley area.
"We are just hoping this will help those that don't know where to turn in times of crisis," concluded Zamantakis.
Carbon and Emery County residents needing services may contact the crisis line toll-free at 1-866-894-8610.