Verity’s founding vision in 1974 was to prevent sexual assault and to become a central source of assistance that placed the needs of sexual assault survivors at the highest level. The then prevailing culture of denial and silence surrounding sexual violence was driven by a tendency to blame the victim, by an imbalance of power between perpetrator and victim, and by legal processes that tended to re-victimize survivors. Sexual assault survivors needed more than courage to come forward to report instances of assault; they needed to reveal it to someone who, first and foremost, believed rather than judged them.
While awareness around sexual violence has grown over the years, its rate of occurrence remains high. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center on Violence Against Women reports that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men will experience sexual violence involving some form of physical contact during their lifetimes.
Since 1980 Verity has relied on three strategies to combat sexual violence: Intervention, Prevention Education, and Counseling. Last year the Intervention Department assisted over 1300 children, youth and adults. Over 450 called Verity’s 24/7 crisis hotline to report abuse or assault or to solicit information on how to prevent victimization. When alerted to instances of abuse or assault, Sexual Assault Advocates ensured survivor’s safety, advocated on their behalf, and connected survivors to essential community resources.
The Prevention Education Department increases awareness of sexual violence through age-appropriate classroom and community presentations to approximately 8,000 to 9,000 youth each year. Education of children is a foundational strategy to ending sexual violence. Verity utilizes age-appropriate curricula to reach students of all ages and uses schools as a vehicle to reach language-limited parents.
Verity’s Counseling Department provides trauma-informed individual and group counseling to help survivors overcome lasting and profound emotional consequences resulting from sexual violence. In FY2019 164 individuals received therapeutic assistance and 50 participated in support groups.
Since Sonoma County adopted a shelter-in-place policy (March 22, 2020), Verity staff has mitigated transmission of the COVID-19 virus by working remotely. Utilizing virtual communications, staff continues to provide critically important advocacy and assistance to survivors and maintains effective communications with law enforcement, health care providers and community service organizations. Consultations with CalCASA and with rape crisis centers throughout California produced protocols that ensure the safety of staff and survivors while maintaining program effectiveness and quality. Remote services and virtual communications will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Verity strives to ensure that socially isolated and vulnerable populations such as homeless, immigrant, incarcerated, and veteran survivors are assisted. It helped lead the formation of the Human Trafficking Task Force and co-founded the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County. Staff is diverse. Of the 14 full time and 2 part time staff, eight are bilingual, five are Caucasian, nine Latinx, and two are African American. Staff is cross-trained in each of the agency’s services. Over 40 volunteers help staff the crisis line, serve as trained Sexual Assault Advocates, and help with community fund raising events. Verity’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board represent the County’s demographic composition and include survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking. The Executive Director has over 40 years of experience in human services and is a survivor of incest and human trafficking.
For the past 46 years, the organization has evolved past mainly being a crisis line. We have expanded our services to include three priority areas of development: education/prevention, counseling, and crisis intervention. Verity staff and volunteers complete extensive training, learning the specific skills that provide help and support for more adults, elders, children, and youth whose lives have been affected by rape and sexual violence.
Due to Covid-19, we are working remotely and in-office at all locations on a staggered schedule. Please be certain to call in advanced before making plans to visit our physical locations, either at the FJC or on Steele Lane. We are still operating within our normal business hours. Please keep this in mind when contacting us, as we may not be immediately available via our office numbers, but will get your call soon. Our crisis line is fully operational so if you have an emergency, please call our crisis line.
If you have an immediate crisis, please call our rape crisis intervention hotline at (707) 545-7273 or call 911 for emergency services.
For all other inquiries about Verity, including the services we provide, upcoming events, or volunteer opportunities, please call (707) 545-7270 or fill out the contact form on this page. We will reply within two business days.