Survivors of sexual violence in the Spokane area can now easily see all their options, including how to access victim advocates and, if they choose, how to report what happened to police, through Seek Then Speak, a service offered online at seekthenspeak.org, by phone at 888-865-9863, or via phone app.
The site explains common terminology surrounding rape and sexual assault, what the process of reporting and going to the hospital for a rape kit looks like. Then, if victims choose, they can start the process of filing a report with law enforcement. They can also ask for services from a victim advocacy agency like Lutheran Community Services Northwest, which announced the new service in partnership with the Spokane Police Department.
"We know these types of crimes are underreported for various reasons," says Sgt. Glenn Bartlett with SPD's Special Victims Unit. "If we can make it easier to report earlier, that's really what we're looking for."
It will also help victims get access to services such as those offered by Lutheran, Bartlett says, so they can start the healing process and reduce negative impacts from the trauma they experienced.
The hope is to make the process of reporting easier for those who are hesitant.
"A lot of times people feel isolated, like they're the only ones and there's nobody they can talk to," Bartlett says. "If we can get them past that barrier of at least being able to report it and seek services, that's good for the community and good for everybody."
While reports that people choose to file through Seek Then Speak will be reviewed by a detective the next business day, there may be a wait of a day or two before being contacted, Bartlett notes. For immediate assistance with a crime that just happened, 911 is still the best option. Lutheran also operates a 24-hour sexual assault hotline at 624-7273.