A sexual assault advocate for Crisis Intervention Services is offering support to victims in Jasper County, and she hopes the organization will reach more individuals.
CIS is a free and confidential outlet for victims of sexual assault. One of Clara Moser’s main goals as an advocate is to “listen,” as she works with victims of any age.
Moser began at CIS in August after graduating from Skidmore College in Upstate New York. She said her experiences in college have helped shape her career path.
“I worked as an advocate at our center for sex and gender relations ... I basically served as a resource to students for all things related to sex and gender, and often times I was also an anonymous peer to peer resource for students dealing with sexual assault,” Moser said.
Moser said when she made the move to the Midwest she wanted to continue on a journey of helping others.
“As sexual assault advocates, we are intensively trained … we have to complete 60 hours of training, and then we are certified by the state of Iowa to be victim counselors,” Moser said. “We are not subject to be subpoenaed — we are just there as a resource for people who need legal advocacy, medical advocacy and just overall emotional support and financial support as well.”
CIS also assists with rent and basic needs. Moser said the organization also offers a shelter at a nondisclosed location for victims who are fleeing from sexual assaults and violent crimes.
Moser said her job is to guide clients through the procedures and to let victims know their rights.
“Victims are entitled to compensation by the state of Iowa, and so compensation can come in many forms, it can come in lost wages, medical bills,” Moser said. “We want them to know the victim chooses if they want to have a rape kit, and they can remain completely anonymous while at the hospital.”
Moser said in addition, all the services in relation to the sexual assault are completely covered by the state of Iowa.
“So, we’re there so that the victims feel supported and not like they’re being pushed into anything they don’t want because a lot of times in those situations you already feel like a lot has been taken out of your control,” Moser said. “I think its really important for victims in that situation to feel like they’re in control.”
Moser said what typically tends to happen is that sexual assault victims go to law enforcement or they go to the hospital first and then law enforcement or the hospital contacts CIS on the client’s behalf.
“I think we are really working on getting our name out in the community more,” Moser said. “We have 24-hour hotline you can call and that will put you through whichever advocate is on the phone for the day ... and you can talk and just vent or you can ask to be set up with an advocate.”
Moser said reporting to law enforcement is entirely up to the victim and it’s not encouraged or discouraged
“The beginning of getting involved is just sitting down and listening to what someone’s needs are,” Moser said.
Moser said the national #MeToo campaign on social media is a prime example of people stepping forward. She said it’s important to know that it can be triggering and upsetting for people not always be an option for some people to out themselves on social media.
“I also just want to say as an advocate even if you aren’t coming out with your statement online, whatever your experience was, you are believed,” Moser said. “Your story matters and you matter, and you shouldn’t have to out yourself publicly to be believed.”
Crisis Intervention Service’s 24-hour crisis hotline is 1-800-270-1620. Moser can be reached at email@example.com.
Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org