Verity extends counseling services to those clients who have been emotionally, sexually, physically or neglectfully traumatized at sometime in their lives. The Counseling Department at Verity has provided exceptional service to Sonoma County for many years. We have been known in this county as “the place” to send a sexual assault survivor for their healing work. Over the years we expanded our counseling department to provide wraparound services to the survivor’s entire support system. By working with families, friends, and significant others of survivors, we are able to support all individuals affected by this trauma. We work with adults and children who are over the age of six. We provide Individual, Group, Couple, and Family counseling.
Clients may be dealing with multiple types of trauma. Our counseling department offers healing modalities that support each issue and each trauma. Expanding our service area to include all types of trauma survivors and their support system is a natural next step in encompassing the needs of our community.
Working with sexual assault gives our counseling team a unique level of expertise. We encourage our clients back into their lives by recognizing sexual assault as trauma, which is something that we all, as humans, can relate to. No one should be alone in their pain; we all deserve to know that others understand.
Each of us have had trauma in our lives. Each of us has coped with it in a different way. Each of us deserves a secure place to heal with an agency that understand that process, that individual path of moving forward. Verity’s focus on supporting trauma survivors, their families, friends, and significant others is a unique addition to Sonoma County’s counseling services. We specialize in supporting all survivors to become Thrivers.
Who We Serve
Verity provides counseling for individuals and their support system who are dealing with trauma. We continue to specialize in working with sexual assault issues. We work with:
- Adults, Teens, Adolescents, and Children age 6 and older
- Female and Male Survivors
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Survivors
- Family, friends and support people of survivors.
Verity Maintains 100% Confidentiality
Verity offers counseling services to trauma survivors as well as their significant others, friends and family, who may be struggling with their own reactions. Services are provided by supervised MFT Trainees and Registered Interns who are working toward licensure and are extensively trained in trauma. They are also certified by the State of California as Sexual Assault Counselors. They are supervised and trained by Sharon Bergeron, who is a licensed MFT. Sixteen sessions are offered on a sliding fee scale.
Sessions are held in a safe, supportive atmosphere. Anything you tell us is confidential within the agency. This means we will not tell anyone that you are being seen by us and we will not tell anyone what you have told us. If you request that we converse with someone else, you will be asked to sign a permission form before we release information to anyone outside the agency.
Our interns and trainees have intensive training and supervision in Trauma and in Rape Trauma Syndrome. We understand the social aspects and psychological symptoms of dealing with trauma and surviving sexual assault as well as how all other aspects of life are affected.
Counseling sessions are by appointment. Call the Counseling Services Manager at 707-545-7270, extension 14, for more information. Leave your name and telephone number.
If you are a new client who has not yet had your first session, please download and complete this form (Verity Information Summary) and bring it with you to your first session. If you do not have access to a printer, let us know by email or phone and we will have a printed copy ready for you before your first session.
Counseling Hours and Location:
- Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., with some flexibility for evening sessions upon request (closed on holidays)
- 835 Piner Road, Suite D, Santa Rosa
Confidentiality is essential to effective therapy and support services. Professional ethics require that we protect the confidentiality of people who seek help from us. A signed permission form is required before information about a client is released to anyone outside the agency, with the following exceptions:
- Threat of harm to self or others
- Suspected Child abuse
- Suspected Elder/Dependent Adult abuse
Verity Maintains 100% Confidentiality
Verity utilizes a sliding scale fee schedule, based on income from $25 to $90 per session. We offer a limited number of lower-fee scholarships as well. To make the best use of our financial resources and to provide quality service, we ask clients who take advantage of counseling services to help with a personal contribution to each individual and group session whenever possible. We accept Victims Compensation. We do not accept private insurance.
Male Survivors of Sexual Assault
Our society’s prevalent images of men claim that men are always strong, invulnerable, stoic, and in control. Despite these stereotypes, men of all ages, sizes, strengths, looks, personalities and sexual orientations are victims of sexual assault. Males are sexually assaulted both as adults and as children.
Many people wonder why men are assaulted at lower rates than women. Sexual assault usually results from the perpetrator’s attempt to feel more powerful, thus the individuals society perceives as having less power are often at greater risk for sexual assault. This is one reason why males are less often sexually assaulted than females, and why male children are at a greater risk of sexual assault than are adult males. On an individual emotional level males are as profoundly affected by sexual assault as females. As a result of the assault, male survivors frequently experience emotions such as:
- confusion over sexual intimacy
It is not unusual for a sexual assault to leave a male survivor questioning his masculinity. This, among other reasons, is why men are less likely to report a sexual assault. The fact that men are more frequently assaulted by other men may cause a male survivor to question his sexual orientation.
These reactions are common because our society perpetuates the myth that sexual assault is about sexual attraction not domination and power. This same myth often inhibits survivors from seeking help in the aftermath of the assault. All survivors, male or female, are entitled to receive empathetic, non-judgmental support and information after an assault. And, regardless of gender, the assault is never the survivor’s fault.
Call Verity for more information about services at 545-7270 x14.
LGBTQ survivors of violence often fear reaching out for help due to homophobia. The layers of oppression, bigotry and discrimination complicate a survivor’s healing.
Verity is responsive to the needs of the LGBTQ Communities. While many service providers are not adequately trained to address the special needs of LGBTQ clients, Verity wants to make it safer for LGBTQ survivors to reach out by providing culturally competent services in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Individual therapy is available.
Sexual and Relationship Abuse
A majority of relationships are not abusive. However, ongoing abuse occurs in approximately one-third of relationships regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, or class. Based on several studies in the early 1990′s, partner abuse occurs in 25-33% of LGBTQ relationships, which is roughly equal to the prevalence of heterosexual domestic violence.
The LGBTQ survivor can expect the same range of emotional responses to assault as any heterosexual survivor. However, because of homophobia, discrimination, bigotry, and bias, there are issues that may negatively impact treatment, impeding the healing process, or in some cases, making the situation worse. Special concerns for the LGBTQ survivor include:
- Insensitivity among social service/health care providers or law enforcement
- Disbelief that the assault or abuse really occurred
- Belief that same sex violence is “mutually combative”
- Guilt or shame because of internalized oppression
- Lack of support from friends or family
- Fear of public disclosure
Resources for the LGBTQ survivor are limited. However, no one should be forced to deal with sexual or relationship violence alone. Sexual orientation should not be perceived as a barrier to accessing the resources that do exist; LGBTQ survivors do not need to be further isolated. For more information or resources contact Verity at 545-7270.
1 in 3 girls and women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 1 in 6 boys and men are sexually assaulted by the age of 16.
Sexual assault affects everyone — directly or through the experiences of those we care about. If someone you care about has been sexually assaulted, you can help.
When it happens, survivors may be uncertain of where to turn for help. They hesitate. Should they call the police? Go to the emergency room? Where can they get support in making these decisions?
24/7 Crisis Line: 707-545-7273
Let them know there is a place that gives information and connects survivors with support. Encourage your friends to play a part in making our society free from sexual violence.
When It is Someone You Know
When someone you know or care about has been assaulted, it is normal for you to feel upset and confused. At a time when you may want to help most, you will be dealing with a crisis of your own.
You may find it difficult to listen when s/he needs to talk about his or her feelings. You may hope that by not talking about it, the feelings both of you have will go away.
You may be tempted to make decisions for the survivor, to be over-protective. You may want to hide the assault from others. You may feel disturbed or confused when the survivor continues to be affected for weeks, months, and even years.
Some partners may want more physical intimacy sooner than the survivor does. Others may feel resistant.
Maybe you feel guilty and responsible, believing you could somehow prevent the assault. You may also feel anger at the survivor or at everyone in general.
All of these feelings are understandable following the sexual assault of someone you love. Please know that if these feelings are hidden or expressed in hurtful ways, they can interfere with the resolution of your crisis and that of the survivor.
The survivor may need your support and understanding. You, however, also need support. Call 707-545-7270 ext. 14 about counseling.
Sexual assault is a violent crime, not a sexually-motivated or gratifying act. The rapist’s aim is to dominate, humiliate, control and degrade the victim. Because the same body parts are involved in sexual assault as in making love, many people confuse sex and violence. Some respond to a survivor as if s/he provoked, wanted or enjoyed it.
Many people also believe rape is not traumatic. Not understanding the reality of sexual assault can make the crisis more difficult for both of you. The emotional impact of sexual assault does not disappear, and talking about it can help. Your feelings are normal, and resources are available for you too.
Family members, spouses, and partners
Your help is important to the survivor of sexual assault. It is natural for survivors to feel a tremendous loss of power and control over their lives. You can emphasize that just surviving is an accomplishment, and whatever they did to survive was the right thing to do. It shows strength.
A survivor may feel anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, shame or depression. You may feel pain, sorrow, disgust — or be impatient with the recovery process. You may blame yourself, or the survivor — or want revenge. Here are a few things you can do to help the survivor:
- Tell them you believe them, and it’s not their fault.
- Listen, but be honest and gently tell them if you cannot handle the details.
- Do not push them to talk, but be available to listen and help if needed.
- Help the survivor with options for immediate medical and legal concerns.
- Do not take control. Support the survivor’s decisions, even if you disagree.
- Encourage them to seek support from trained professionals.
Deal with your own feelings and don’t let them overshadow those of the survivor. Learn more about sexual assault so you can help in the healing process. Do not hesitate to seek help from trained professionals in dealing with your feelings.
If my partner has been assaulted, how do I deal with our sexual relationship?
If your partner wants to refrain from sexual activity, it is essential that you honor those wishes. Otherwise (s)he may feel rushed or frightened by your desire to be sexual.
Try to talk openly and gently about this with your partner. It is vital to communicate. Let your partner’s needs guide your actions.
Your partner’s attitude about sexuality may affect you. Consider seeing a counselor to talk about your feelings. Remember, most survivors recover from the trauma and lead healthy, loving lives.
Sexual assault is a very serious and personal trauma that should always be treated with sensitivity and respect for a survivor’s privacy. But there is a role we all can play in supporting survivors and programs that serve them. Through individual commitments by concerned citizens and the mobilization of communities around the issue of sexual assault, the road to recovery and healing is paved.
Sexual assault affects us all. It compromises the health, safety and welfare of our families and neighborhoods. It directly burdens financial resources for health care, law enforcement and criminal justice. It takes many people and varied approaches to make a difference. We hope you will join us in creating a society free from sexual violence.
- Become a Crisis Line Counselor. Volunteers staff the 24/7 Crisis Line. For information, call or email Verity’s Crisis Line Coordinator: 707-545-7270 extension 18 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Verity offers internships for adults and service hours for teens. Call 707-545-7270 ext. 13 or email@example.com.
- Community Education – sexual assault prevention workshops are offered to any community group requesting information on child abuse and general sexual assault issues. Call 707-545-7270 ext. 13 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Become a CAPP/TAPP educator – Child Abuse Prevention Project and Teen Assault Prevention Project. As a presenter for CAPP/TAPP, you will learn to facilitate dynamic classroom workshops for students. Call 707-545-7270 ext. 13 or email email@example.com.
Survivors may experience sexual problems after the rape or abuse. They may not want sexual contact of any kind, or may no longer enjoy it – this may be exacerbated if their partners blames them or are impatient with their recovery; alternatively, they might become more sexually active than before. All of these reactions are normal and understandable.
Survivors may make drastic changes in home, work, school or relationships; this can be an important part of helping them feel safe and in control again. Some of these coping skills will be healthy and supportive in their daily functioning. Some will not be very healthy and will have a negative emotional impact. Their various ways of coping may include:
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Numbness or lack of emotion
- Rapid, inexplicable mood changes
- Feeling dirty
- Anger or desire for revenge
- Nervousness and Worry
- Being easily upset
- Powerlessness and loss of control
- Grief and loss
- Feeling “different” from other people
- Loss of Self-esteem
- Losing interest in life
- Suicidal feelings
Immediate Trauma Reactions
Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) symptoms change over time. In the first days after the sexual assault, survivors often experience shock. They may be visibly upset, or may appear calm and reluctant to talk. Once the shock has passed, they may behave as if nothing has happened. This is called denial or apparent adjustment and helps the survivor block painful memories and feelings that they may not yet be strong enough to deal with. This phase can last for weeks or months or even years, but is almost always followed by a long phase of active healing, during which the survivor will probably experience other RTS symptoms. With care, attention and time, the symptoms will decrease and finally disappear completely.
Many rape survivors who experience symptoms of RTS may find it helpful to talk to a counselor trained in working with these experiences. A counselor can help them deal with the strongest symptoms, or to work through memory loss. Other survivors may find that the assault brings up other underlying problems, and in these cases, more help may be provided. If you would like to find a capable counselor, contact Verity or another agency.
For more information contact Verity. We offer a 24/7 crisis line for survivors and also offer training, education and information about sexual assault and other forms of violence.