A space for survivors
After years of planning and community requests, a resource center for victims of sexual assault is coming to Isla Vista.
Bianca Orozco, Community Education Coordinator for Standing Together to End Sexual Assault, said the push for the safe location began after a sexual assault sit-in at UCSB in 2017. STESA is a nonprofit dedicated to providing confidential counseling and support services to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones.
Construction began last fall and the space will become operational after an open house event on Oct. 10 at 970 Embarcadero Del Mar suite 101 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“This space, we think of it as an extension to our downtown Santa Barbara location for Isla Vista residents. They were asking for a space that wasn’t connected to the university that survivors (of sexual assault) could use so it functions in the same way,” said Ms. Orozco who explained that STESA advocates will meet with survivors at the center by appointment. There they can provide counseling, contact law enforcement or connect the survivor to medical services.
The small room is simply furnished with comfortable couches and beach-inspired accents. A cool blue color is used throughout the room. Ms. Orozco said the center was designed to create familiar and casual for environment for survivors.
“They (Students Against Sexual Assault at UCSB) went ahead and started scheduling meetings with STESA. Initially they wanted it to be a full-blown center with an executive director and dedicated staff, but they had a conversation to look at it a bit more realistically in terms of what we can provide. They were happy to have a space in IV where we can come in and serve them,” said Ms. Orozco.
Santa Barbara County gave STESA permission to use their property for the center and the Isla Vista Community Services District provided funding for the renovation.
Survivors can call STESA’s 24-hour hotline at (805) 564-3696 to schedule an appointment or request services over the phone. They can also walk-in at the STESA office at 433 E. Canon Perdido St. in Santa Barbara during business hours.
Ms. Orozco said STESA serves nearly 400 sexual assault survivors per year, 40 of which are from Isla Vista. Their service area ranges from Carpinteria to Santa Ynez.
In May 2018, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center re-branded into Standing Together to End Sexual Assault.
Ms. Orozco said the organization made the change to be more be more accessible to victims of all kinds of sexual assault and to those who are not from Santa Barbara.
They serve survivors regardless of gender identity, orientation, race or race class.
For more information visit http://sbstesa.org.