Serving Pierce County For 50-Plus Years
Rebuilding Hope’s roots date back to 1972, the same year often quoted as the beginning of the ‘Sexual Assault Movement’. A group of young women attending the Tacoma Learning Center surveyed Pierce County and found there were very few services available to help individuals who had been raped or sexually abused. They decided to provide support services to victims of sexual assault in the local community and founded what was then called Pierce County Rape Relief, formally incorporating as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1975. With no initial funding, they began to handle crisis calls from their own homes, making referrals for housing and resources provided by other local organizations. Pioneers in the field have told us that when they started, they “didn’t even have language” related to sexual assault and support services.
Initially, agency services were designed and delivered to meet the needs of sexual assault victims during their time of crisis; hence advocacy was developed. Experience in the field, however, began to reveal more far-reaching effects of the assault on both the victim and those lives that were intertwined with the victim. Services were expanded to include secondary victim advocacy (for partners, children and other family members, and friends) and therapy, where behavioral effects could be identified and dealt with in an effort to re-attain healthy, whole individuals. In 1989, the agency changed its name to Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Pierce County to broaden the focus beyond rape to include all forms of sexual assault.
In 1997, the agency’s name changed once more to the Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County, lessening the focus on immediate crisis intervention and becoming more inclusive of prevention, education and long-term healing. During that same year, the agency become a Washington State Accredited Sexual Assault Program and as such, is responsible as the primary provider of sexual assault advocacy and education/prevention services for all of Pierce County.
In 2011, “Rebuilding Hope” was finally added to the agency’s name, projecting the message of hope and resiliency that we embody. Since that time, the agency has operated as Rebuilding Hope! Sexual Assault Center for Pierce County.
In August of 2023, Rebuilding Hope was selected by the State Department of Commerce Office of Crime Victims Advocacy to begin serving as Kitsap County’s Sexual Assault Program following the closure of Kitsap Advocacy, Counseling and Support. This expansion has prompted the need for yet another agency name change to better reflect Rebuilding Hope’s new service area, encompassing both Pierce and Kitsap counties. Planning for this transition is currently underway, with plans to officially rename the agency by early 2024.
In the beginning, the agency struggled to meet the needs of victims. Today, we struggle to keep up with the demand for our services and to fundamentally end sexual assault through prevention and societal intolerance for sexual violence. Until this is accomplished the need for education, therapy services, and advocacy efforts on behalf of victims, their families and friends will continue and grow as more victims become willing to step forward to seek help and assistance.
Fortunately, society’s willingness to permit sexual assault does appear to finally be changing for the better. Furtherance of this progress requires us to continue to address the problem, quit blaming victims, and hold offenders accountable for their actions. We call upon you to speak about these issues with your family, friends, neighbors and associates. Don’t excuse perpetrators by blaming victims. Work to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and support legislation to keep them behind bars. Drop the pretense that excuses forced sexual contact as a “boys being boys” and instead adopt a “respect for all” mentality that requires consent and dignity.
Provide support…Promote healing…Partner to end sexual violence.
We aspire to build communities that do not tolerate oppressive social norms, behaviors or systems that promote sexual violence or exploitation. Communities where those who have been harmed are believed and supported in pursuit of their individual paths of healing. Communities where sexual violence does not exist, and their people are educated and empowered to center full choice, consent and safety.
Empowerment : Rebuilding Hope believes in the empowerment of all individuals, which expands beyond the belief of an individual’s experience and centers their self-determined journey forward. Empowerment exists within all and cannot be given by an individual or entity. Rebuilding Hope aims to equip individuals with the information and resources to facilitate their own path of healing, safety, justice, stability and self-sufficiency while acknowledging systemic and societal barriers they face.
Compassion: Rebuilding Hope believes all individuals have the right to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity, especially with regard to their experiences and self-determined choices.
Advocacy: To advocate is to amplify access and volume to and for survivor voices seeking belief and support along with social and systemic accountability and change. Advocacy is more than a service or program – advocacy calls for education, resources and assistance navigating forward following trauma.
Accessibility: Rebuilding Hope values inclusive practices and strives to be fully accessible to all members of the community while acknowledging that individuals with marginalized and intersecting identities and experiences have historically faced additional barriers, or even harm, by community programs and systems. This negatively impacts their ability to equitable access support services. Rebuilding Hope is committed to serving all individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, religion, disability, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, income, veteran status, marital status or any other basis prohibited by local, state or federal law.
Collaboration: No one organization created the sexual violence problem in this community and no one organization can singularly respond to or eliminate it. While Rebuilding Hope is the only state-accredited Community Sexual Assault Program designated to serve Kitsap and Pierce Counties, our reach and impact is amplified by strategic partnerships with individuals, collectives, community system organizations to help meet survivors’ needs and to work on eliminating sexual violence from the fabric of the communities we serve.
Accountability: The concept of justice takes on many forms and definitions across individuals. In light of this and the fact so few survivors ever receive institutional justice for their trauma, Rebuilding Hope is committed to modeling a culture of accountability that demonstrates transparent competency and ethics, a work environment where all thrive and excel in their service to the mission and where we continuously improve how we meet the needs of the individuals and communities we serve.
The Rebuilding Hope Sexual Assault Center was created and exists to serve victim-survivors of sexual assault and abuse, and to confront the social dynamics which foster sexual assault and abuse.
Although sexual assault is often an isolated incident, it is symptomatic of a greater social dynamic. The act or threat of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual violence are used to victimize and control individuals. Sexual assault is a physical and psychological assault of profound magnitude, which impacts a victim’s sense of self-esteem, trust, security and control, as well as the individual’s relationship within the larger community.
Rebuilding Hope is a community-based agency that advocates for victim-survivors, their families and friends. The agency embraces the goal of providing support and information so that a victim may empower themselves to heal, while acknowledging the victim-survivor’s dignity and respect of their decisions.
Rebuilding Hope advocates the victim-survivor’s right to: Be believed; Receive non-judgmental support; Choose their own pace and path of healing; Expect privacy and confidentiality; Accept or reject any agency service offered; and Receive accurate and current information.
In order to serve all victim-survivors, Rebuilding Hope strives to be fully accessible to all segments of the community, acknowledging differences and special needs. The agency seeks to eliminate barriers by asking for community input in assessing and broadening diverse representation within the agency. It serves individuals who have had their lives impacted by sexual assault, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, religion, disability, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, income, veteran status, marital status or any other basis prohibited by federal, state, or local law.
The agency believes sexual assault can be prevented. Prevention programs focus on: Education: targeting youth, other service providers, and the public, to rethink unconscious beliefs that permit the behavior; Community Development Model facilitation and implementation, which allow individual communities to take responsibility for creating an environment that has no tolerance for sexually violent behavior; Confrontation of societal views and attitudes that excuse sexual assault and increase vulnerability.
The Sexual Assault Center is an integral part of a larger system encompassing all services and professions that come into contact with victims of sexual assault and abuse. As a pivotal agency in the community, Rebuilding Hope is a critical force in the effort to further humanize the medical, legal, judicial and social processes that confront the victim-survivor. It is committed to interacting with the larger system in a professional and responsible manner.