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Breaking The Silence

Breaking The SilenceTufts senior Rosalyn Chi rallies to keep Boston's rape crisis centers open in the face of statewide budget cuts. Boston.

Boston [09.19.03] It's not unusual for Rosalyn Chi to get a late night phone call from a complete stranger in distress, relaying a heartfelt tale of personal struggle. For the past two years, the Tufts senior has used the skills she learned from her coursework in clinical psychology by volunteering as a hotline counselor for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). But organization like BARCC are in serious financial trouble thanks to recent state budget cuts, leaving volunteers like Chi fighting for their survival.

"[Rape crisis centers] offer free, confidential services for sexual assault survivors to help them rebuild their lives," Chi wrote in a column for the Boston Metro. "Survivors are empowered to make their own choices, while the rape crisis centers offer the counseling, medical and legal resources for them to do so."

But the Massachusetts government has cut funding to rape crisis centers by 75 percent, making it difficult for organizations like BARCC to continue providing these valuable services.

"The staff were stretched beyond their means, often working with limited space and outdated equipment," Chi said. "Now these problems have increased ten-fold."

Chi noted that the center recently had to close one of its two offices and cut several job positions, leaving fewer employees to handle a continuously increasing load of responsibilities.

"Rape crisis counselors bear witness to some of the darkest moments in a person's life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Chi said.

And the Tufts student has certainly heard her share of difficult stories through her work with BARCC.

"I've fielded calls from survivors who had just been assaulted and needed to go to the hospital for immediate medical care, as well as calls from survivors who were suffering setbacks in the healing process," Chi said. "I've gotten calls from parents whose adolescent daughter has just revealed that she had been raped, health professionals looking for sexual assault resources for their patients, and significant others who don't know how to support their loved ones through their emotional pain."

Chi's work at the center has inspired a crusade to promote awareness of the resources available to help rape survivors.

"In the midst of all this, I realized how crucial the services we provide are to those whose lives have been thoroughly affected by sexual assault," the Tufts senior said. "It is critical that rape crisis centers be allowed to continue their fight against sexual assault by making sure they can survive financially."

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