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Sheriff's office takes over hotline answering duties

— “It’s the only sexual assault hotline in the community,” said Ziegler. “We also do emergency room accompaniments for those assaulted who want to have a rape exam, court advocacy, community prevention education.”

Callers can reach out to the hotline for any number of reasons, from seeking information about what to do after an assault to just needing an ear to confide in.

“A lot of times people call because they’re struggling with flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts; they’re just uncertain, they need a voice to talk them through the darkest part of the night because they’re lost in their experience,” said Ziegler.

Ziegler said it’s important to stress that despite members of the sheriff’s department now answering and dispersing calls, the hotline is still 100 percent anonymous and law enforcement will only get involved on the victim’s terms.”

“It’s completely confidential and law enforcement will not be involved, it will go to one of our counselors,” said Ziegler. “If ever law enforcement is involved it’s as the victim requests.”

Sheriff Craig Apple said the “most critical issues during any emergency have always been rapid response and reliable service” and he’s confident the new arrangement will ensure those issues are met.

The Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center first opened in 1974 and was previously known as AWARE (Albany Women Against Rape) before becoming a department of the county the following year and going through several name changes. The center got its current name in 2001 to “better reflect the full population of crime victims receiving services.”

The 24-hour sexual assault hotline is 447-7716 and more information is available online at www.albanycounty.com/cvsvc.

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