Editor’s note: This commentary was submitted by Solace Crisis Treatment Center through the Los Alamos Police Department Victim Assistant in conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – April 18-24
Solace Crisis Treatment Center began as the rape crisis center for the First Judicial District in 1973. After many years, we recognized that the stigma of being a “rape victim” made it difficult for some people to reach out for services and many women and men did not realize that the trauma they endured was, in fact, a rape. To make our services more accessible we changed our name to Solace Crisis Treatment Center and saw an immediate up-tick in the number of people seeking our help. Our new name also reflected the expanded services we provide.
Today, we offer crisis stabilization, long-term psychological support, advocacy services and forensic interviewing of children who have been victims of or witnesses to violent crimes. A Solace client can file a police report, get a Sexual Assault Nurse Exam SANE) and meet with a legal services attorney to discuss immigration issues all while on-site. Solace also provides comprehensive, evidence-based, violence prevention programs and serves as the convener of the First Judicial District Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) for the investigation and prosecution of crimes against children.
Since 2016 Solace has been working with the Adult Detention Center and the New Mexico Department of Corrections to ensure that the facilities are fully compliant with the federally mandated Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). All inmates held in custody in Santa Fe County have confidential access to Solace advocates and full access to SANE exams, so incarcerated survivors can access the services they may need and deserve.
It is remarkable that over a period of 48 years Solace has evolved from a small, all-volunteer, sexual assault hotline for women to a full-service agency. We are now able to meet the needs of men, women and children (and their non-offending family members) and we are positioned to meet the special needs of the LGBTQI community, the immigrant community, the Native American community, non-English speakers, and people with disabilities.
As the agency grew, it moved from a few tiny offices with hand-me-down furniture and equipment to its current location, conveniently situated on the Southside of Santa Fe. For seventeen years we have been welcoming survivors to our dignifying, state-of-the-art facility on Valentine Way.
We believe in the capacity of survivors to heal and grow and find their inner resilience. We start by believing! We believe that clients are the experts in their own experiences, which is crucial to the healing process. We support people in finding their own power to improve the quality of their lives. We are committed to serving our clients and those who support them regardless socioeconomic status, race, nationality or country of origin, incarceration, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, or religion. Through partnerships we seek to be accountable to our communities. Solace strives to ensure that our services are comprehensive, culturally competent, accessible, and strength based.
We seek to accomplish our mission by working with other groups, agencies and organizations to inform, educate, and respond to the ever-changing world of trauma in our community.
Our work is as strong as our partnerships! One of our most important partnerships is with Christus St. Vincent Medical Center. Solace houses Christus’ Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), provides Advocates for SANE exams, collaborates with SANE on the Multidisciplinary Team, and takes referrals from Christus’ social workers and counselors prior to patient discharge.
We also convene and facilitate the First Judicial District Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), which includes law enforcement, the Office of the District Attorney, medical/mental health providers, CYFD, SANE and several Solace staff members. The MDT meets monthly to do cross-training and to conduct case reviews designed to coordinate the investigation of crimes against children.
We also work with Santa Fe Public Schools Safe Zones by providing anti-bias education for SFPS staff and we participate on the City of Santa Fe Immigrant Committee to create policies and programming to make our immigrant community safer.
Solace clinicians and advocates work closely with many community allies including Esperanza Shelter, Santa Fe Recovery Center, Santa Fe Community Guidance Center, The Sky Center, Tierra Nueva Counseling, Mesa Vista Wellness Center, La Familia Medical Center, The Life Link and with private therapists.
It takes a village, they say, to be dedicated to transforming lives! Every one of us is a steppingstone to a sexual assault survivor’s healing. Everyone one of us must be relentless and contribute to the pursue of survivor’s rights. I ask of you to support survivors and to start by believing in them. Join me into becoming one of the many lights that may shine into the darkness so they may find their resiliency again.
Solace Crisis Treatment Center
24-hour crisis advocacy hotline: 800.721.7273