SACIS provides resources for sexual assault victims

Adriana Hernadez-Santana, Junior Feature Editor

The Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service  is designed to help sexual assault victims. (File Photo)

The Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service or SACIS is an organization that was designed for individuals who are struggling with any type of sexual assault to stay safe, protected and get help. 

According to, sexual assault and sexual abuse both can tie into one another. It is the concept of someone forcing or pressuring another party using either physical or emotional tactics to get you to commit to a sexual act that they are not consenting to. 

Chief Marisol Gamboa from the University Police department references the UCR Crime Agencies to describe rape to differentiate that and sexual assault. 

Rape is the penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim; attempts are included.

In 2021, there was a total of 43 rape cases in the Coles County area, with 13 of them being tracked back Charleston, Illinois and two of them at Eastern Illinois University.

This can leave sexual assault victims curious as to what they should do. 

This is where SACIS came to help. 

Located at 825 18th St. in Charleston, the SACIS main office and counseling suite is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Their doors are open to everyone.

Ashlee Bell, the administrative specialist at the SACIS Charleston office, said that they work to make sure that every survivor gets the help that they need and deserve. 

“So we provide victim centered services to any victim or survivor of sexual assault, including significant others,” Bell said. “We provide services from counseling to advocacy, with legal advocacy, medical advocacy and case management.”

There is a waitlist at the Charleston location for counselors currently. 

Just because someone is on the waitlist does not mean that they still can not get help.

The counselors at SACIS will keep in touch with the potential clients and do check-in with them while they are on the waitlist to ensure that not only are they safe, but they can still get the help that they need. 

Not only that, but SACIS also does prevention work at different schools to teach the younger generation too. They want to make sure that the kids have a safe space to not only be heard, but also be seen. 

To help spread awareness, April is sexual assault awareness and prevention month.

Throughout the month of April, SACIS will host various events to help promote safety tips and to prevent further cases from occurring. 

For those survivors that are struggling, SACIS does offer some help in advocating for oneself. 

“If it’s like a recent assault, we could suggest things like, if you feel safe to go out to the hospital for medical advocacy, we could have an advocate meet you there and see what you know, with you the whole time if that’s what you would prefer,” says Bell. 

For the individuals that do not feel fully comfortable talking to someone in person, there is always a hotline option to utilize as well. 

“I would suggest calling the crisis hotline to just talk to someone, no matter the time,” Bell said. “24 hours a day, seven days a week holidays included…I guess just reaching out for help,” 

Bell, along with all the other members at SACIS acknowledge that taking the first step is always the hardest. They are here to help and make the healing process as smooth as possible. 

“I know it can be scary, but like being sure that they get that help if they feel like they really want that help,” Bell said. 

Even after healing, Bell encourages survivors to talk to people that can make them feel safe. 

“I would just suggest reaching out when they feel like they need to talk to someone,” Bell said. “Being sure like I know it’s so hard and scary to ask for help. It can have really cool benefits as well.”

Bell had a message she does want everyone struggling to know, there is hope. 

“You’re not alone,” Bell said. “More than anything, I just want people to know they’re not alone. And that we exist that we’re here in that we want to help and just keep calling us. Keep calling us like we are. We’re here for you.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with sexual abuse, please call the SACIS office at 

(217) 348-5033, or the crisis hotline at (800)-656-HOPE. 


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].