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More Sexual Assault Survivors In Iowa Have Access To Resources

IowaCASA can now serve more than just students. Due to COVID-19, all staff are working from home, but can still offer the same services.
IowaCASA can now serve more than just students. Due to COVID-19, all staff are working from home, but can still offer the same services.

Survivors of sexual assault in Iowa now have more civil legal resources. An organization has now expanded its reach to a population beyond just students.

Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Iowa CASA) received a grant that allows the organization to assist more survivors in the state. Before earning the funding, Iowa CASA was only able to provide civil legal services to students. Executive director Beth Barnhill said the extra funds allow Iowa CASA to help more survivors now.

“We are pleased about them because we had to turn away clients that we knew needed help, but they didn't fit under what we were allowed to do," Barnhill said.

She said she specifically asked for this flexibility after having to turn away some survivors because they were not students.

“We felt like we needed to expand what we can do in order to meet the needs of the survivors who call us so we asked that the scope be enlarged," Barnhill said.

With the new grant, Iowa CASA will still be able to provide the same services as before, like bilingual resources, but it now applies to a larger population of survivors of all ages and almost all situations.

"If they have a problem in a workplace, either because they were assaulted in the workplace, or they were assaulted outside of the workplace, but they need some assistance, changing hours or having time off, we can help them with that," Barnhill said. "We can help people negotiate with landlords, if they were assaulted in their apartment or house, or they need to move and need to get out of a lease, or any sort of other civil legal assistance."

Iowa CASA cannot represent people in criminal or specifically immigration matters, but they can point individuals in the right direction.

Barnhill said all services provided will remain the same, like bilingual assistance. The grant will allow for up to five years of expanded services. Currently Iowa CASA is arranging for a social media campaign to let survivors in the state know about the funding updates. Barnhill said after the social media campaign, she thinks the number of survivors reaching out to Iowa CASA will increase.

Barnhill said even if someone is not sure whether or not Iowa CASA can provide them with what they need, still call (515) 244-7424.

"We don't just say to people, we can't help you. We will try to figure out another way for them to get assistance," Barnhill said.

As COVID-19 requires more people to work or study from home, Barnhill said she would not be surprised if Iowa CASA's services are needed at a more rapid speed. The extra funds will help to supplement many of the cases where home may not be a safe option.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines
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