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New Clinic Opens to Help Victims of Sexual Assault and Other

New Clinic Opens to Help Victims of Sexual Assault and Other Forms of Violence
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The Bridge Official Opening
Jasmine Ellis

Victims of sexual assault or other forms of violence in Mississippi now have another place to receive care. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports.

The Bridge -- a community forensic clinic -- will help victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Established through the Center for Violence Prevention, the clinic will provide several forms of care to victims including -- medical evaluations and emergent care for clients. Sandy Middleton is executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention. Middleton says she hopes that partnering with law enforcement will help with the lack of prosecutions surrounding sexual assault crimes in the state.

"What we want to do is to be able to meet a victim in their greatest time of need," said Middleton. "We feel like that's going to empower a victim to get the help they need when it comes to follow-up and support services."

Only 193 charges were prosecuted for sexual assault crimes -- including rape, statutory rape, sexual battery and child molestation -- from July through December 2017 in Mississippi. That's according to the records obtained from the Administrative Office of Courts.

There are several community organizations partnering with the clinic including the National Guard and the Pearl Police Department. Dean Scott is police chief. Scott says the comfortable interview room within the clinic will help the victims feel safe when talking to the police.

"These victims of these specific crimes, it lowers their anxiety, it lowers their fear, and they're not put in such a spotlight on a spectacle," said Scott. "And it's a much more secure feeling for them which helps us in gaining information and getting what we need to pursue the suspects in a crime."

Everything at The Bridge is confidential and free of charge for victims.