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Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) has been serving survivors of sexual violence since 1979 when we incorporated as a NH 501(c)(3) non-profit agency serving sexual assault victims in Rockingham, Strafford and southern York counties. The program began with a 24-hour rape crisis hotline and one part-time staffer who trained volunteer advocates to accompany victims at hospital emergency rooms, police investigations, and court appointments. To this day, these services remain central to our agency.
For over three decades, the agency's work has expanded to serve adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, as well as their non-offending parents, partners and friends. As community demands increased, services grew to include support groups for partners and parents of survivors group, sexual assault support groups and a support group for teens who have been sexually victimized. In addition, the agency has provided professional programs to educate the community about the issue of sexual violence.
Our Education/Prevention Program serves pre-school through high school students with age-appropriate presentations ranging from Personal Body Safety to Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Harassment Prevention. In 1998 we developed a workplace sexual harassment prevention program for local employers and employees. We are continually expanding our education/prevention work in accordance with our commitment to end sexual violence.
Today, 6 full-time staff, 3 part-time staff, and over 30 dedicated volunteers provide the agency's services. We opened a part-time outreach office covering Strafford County in 1996, but were forced to close due to lack of funding in 2002. Fortunately, we were able to re-open the Rochester office part-time in October 2003.
In 2004, Sexual Assault Support Services celebrated 25 years of dedication and commitment to making a difference in the lives of survivors of sexual violence and working towards ending sexual violence in our community.
For the past few years, SASS has focused on development and has embarked on a long-term sustainability plan for the organization. We continue to assess our programs and services to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
2009 marked the 30th anniversary of SASS. We continue our commitment to serving those affected by sexual violence throughout Rockingham and Strafford Counties. It is our hope that the entire community will join us as we work towards ending sexual violence in the Seacoast.