Bangor agency offers new Online Helpline

Posted March 13, 2012, at 5:08 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Rape Response Services recently launched a new website that offers an Online Helpline staffed by trained advocates who will be available to answer questions and communicate privately with those who access the system.

The project was made possible by the Maine Community Foundation. In 2010, Rape Response Services received grants totaling $9,819 from the Foundation, including awards of $2,500 from the Piscataquis County Fund, $3,319 from the Penobscot County Fund and $4,000 from the Penobscot Valley Health Association Fund.

Funding from the Maine Community Foundation was used to hire a social media consultant who helped the agency develop a new website and improve its use of social media and other communications technology to better serve victims and survivors of sexual assault. The new website also will help to create greater awareness of sexual assault issues.

Rape Response Services currently offers a toll-free hot line to help those affected by sexual violence. But, according to Tamar Mathieu, executive director of Rape Response Services, some people are hesitant to call a hot line and are more accustomed to communicating via email, text message or other electronic means.

“It can be extremely difficult to share intensely personal information with another person,” said Mathieu. “The Online Helpline will give people an opportunity to ask questions using what people view as a more anonymous form of communication.”

Mathieu explained that the help line is not intended to replace other services.

“Instead the goal is to help people become more comfortable accessing services and to be a bridge to the further services they might need.”

For information, visit rrsonline.org. Access the confidential hot line by calling 800-310-0000, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Online Helpline hours are posted on the website.

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