A free training course is available for persons interested in volunteering with the Union County Rape Crisis Center. The Rape Crisis Center has been offering guidance and support to victims of sexual violence since 1984, as a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Department of Human Services.

“A steady hand and a calm, reassuring voice can go a long way toward restoring a sense of community and self-worth to Union County residents facing a crisis,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “Often a victim of sexual violence has no family or friends to call upon for support while navigating the medical and legal aftermath of attack, and our volunteers step up to fill that critical need.”

The training course qualifies volunteers to be Confidential Sexual Violence Advocates, who answer phone calls to Union County’s Rape Crisis Hotline and offer in-person support.

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No previous experience in counseling, law or medicine is required to become an Advocate. Volunteers must be Union County residents at least 18 years of age. They must hold a valid driver’s license and have their own vehicle.

The training course includes sessions on crisis counseling, and medical and legal accompaniment in a supportive, empathetic environment.

All sessions take place at the Rape Crisis Center office in the Colleen Fraser county services building at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield. Prospective volunteers will also come to the Westfield office for an informal interview prior to undertaking the training course.

To learn more about volunteering and get information about the next training course, call the Rape Crisis Center at 908-233-7273 or email rcc@ucnj.org.

For more details about the Rape Crisis Center, including personal stories by volunteers, visit the Rape Crisis Center blog at unioncountyrapecrisiscenter.blogspot.com.