MIDDLETOWN, Pa. --
Yadira Morales, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the 193rd Special Operations Wing has served in the field for over 15 years. She’s worked for a variety of organizations to provide services to victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. These organizations include the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and child protective services.
The Puerto-Rican Native recently sat down to share some insight on her job as a SARC.
What is a SARC?
A SARC is a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and basically we are the central point of contact for anything related to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. We coordinate services, we work towards prevention, education and response efforts.
How long have you been a SARC?
I’ve been a SARC off-and-on for several years. I’ve worked in the helping field with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse for a little over 15 years now. I bounced back and forth between the family advocacy program and the SHARP program in the Army for a little while and I did work for the Coast Guard for a little bit of time in family readiness within the special-needs programs.
What drew you to these programs and career field?
I’ve always wanted to help people. As a child, I wanted to go into law enforcement and unfortunately for me that didn’t work out. However, once I finished my Bachelor’s degree I began working for child protective services and I found that it was a calling for me. In social services, I worked with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. I found that it was a calling for me. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to be able to walk someone through the healing process and sometimes that starts at the very beginning, the middle or the end. We really try to empower people to get through one if not the most difficult time in their life. It is good to be part of that healing process as best as we can be.
What services do you offer?
We have victim advocates and offer referral and information for victims/survivors. We walk them through what they can expect to happen in the event they decide to come forward with a report. There are two reporting options, restricted and unrestricted. With those options there is an array of services such as counseling and medical services.
We are a victims/survivors confidants, we walk them through what the process will look like and what they can expect. We go with them to their appointments, whether it is to the hospital or to a law enforcement interview. Sometimes we’ve even gone to court. It’s really up to the person sitting in the seat, we work with what they want and we really want to empower them to utilize our services as much as they desire. We are here for them.
To become a SARC, what type of training did you have to go through?
To be in the field you usually need something within in the social services field, I have my bachelor’s in criminal justice and my master’s in human relations. There is also an in-house requirement of being certified by the Department of Defense through the Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program and every two years we have to be re-credentialed and to do that we are required to have 32 continuing-educational units.
Is there any advice or comforting words you would give to Airmen to encourage them when taking the difficult step of coming forward?
It’s hard to come forward. The best advice I could give would be to talk to me or talk to someone, anyone. Airmen can reach out to me, they can call me, or meet me. If they don’t want to meet in my office, I will happily travel to a coffee shop or a library or a different location. We have a cell phone number that Airmen can call and ask questions.
Now, if they don’t want to talk to me, I encourage Airmen to talk to someone, there are so many resources available that you can get support from.
For more information please visit https://www.193sow.ang.af.mil/About-Us/Resources/193rd-SOW-Sexual-Assault-Prevention-and-Response/ or call (717) 948-3118 or (717) 856-4378.