New laws in the state mean police and local sexual abuse resource centers are working together to help victims heal.
The "Sexual Assault Victims’ Access to Justice Act" seeks to give victims more recovery time after traumatic experiences.
Cadillac City Police and OASIS Family Resource Center are working together to help victims heal while still looking for justice.
“It’s not so bam bam bam. Things can get jumbled,” OASIS Head of Crisis Response Shawna Shelton said. “That way they’re not recalling certain events that occurred at that time.”
Talking about what happened can be a traumatizing experience for survivors of sexual abuse.
OASIS, a sexual abuse resource center in Cadillac, now has an on-call response team working with city police.
“When we’re responding to a call of a sexual assault, especially when the victims are in the hospital, they’re sending victim advocates to the hospital,” said Cadillac City Police Chief Todd Golnick.
Chief Todd Golnick says it helps because certain information must be given to victims within 24 hours — like contact information for the investigating officer and info about local agencies that might support them.
“The police have a function, which is to try to identify and arrest the perpetrator when these crimes happen, and unfortunately it doesn’t play really well for the victim who’s going through a huge emotional crisis.”
It’s the police’s job to find the facts and disseminate the information. While OASIS adds a more nurturing aspect to the situation.
“We’re trained in trauma response. We have that empathetic response,” Shelton said. “We’re familiar with the law, what they’re allowed to, and we also know the tools to help somebody become grounded.”
A partnership and change in approach OASIS and the police hope gives survivors more time to get their feet on the ground — which could help the process.
“I would like to be able to see more perpetrators incarcerated for the crime that they’re committing. Statistics it’s 97 percent don’t spend a single day in jail.”
In addition to the partnership, Cadillac City Police received a grant to train on better handling sexual abuse investigation interviews this fall.