Where’s the hotline?

Nora Smith, Opinions Editor

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Dear Illinois,

Good for you. You did it. You started a non-organizational drug hotline. Congrats.

But tell me, Illinois, have you opened a newspaper lately?

Headline after headline. Allegation after allegation. Story after story. Many regarding not drug addictions, but sexual harassment.

It’s great that you’re helping people who face drug addiction. There are a lot of people out there who will find the hotline useful because they need unbiased referrals and advice. Bias is acquired when for-profit organizations benefit financially by referring callers to affiliate organizations, even if the affiliates aren’t the most suitable for the caller. Clients deserve to have referrals to programs suited for them as opposed to what’s beneficial for the organization, making this new non-organizational drug hotline very useful.

So, where’s the hotline for sexual harassment?

The news coverage makes it inexcusably obvious that harassment is and has been a problem, and that plenty of people need help. So, how are you going to give it to them? Especially in the case of sexual harassment, someone seeking help would need to have a completely unbiased confidant. Victims need to know where to go, what to do and what their options are, so they can find the resources best suited to their needs.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, also known as RAINN, suggests that after experiencing harassment or an assault, victims should first find a safe place, then seek medical attention, since they may have been physically harmed without knowing. Victims can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam, sometimes called a rape kit, in which DNA is collected from the victim and used to help identify the perpetrator.

To find local health facilities that perform services like sexual assault forensic exams, RAINN suggests the use of the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

However, there’s a slight issue with RAINN’s hotline: it’s organizational.

This means the hotline tends to route the caller to affiliate organizations in the area. Because RAINN is a for-profit organization, RAINN benefits from referring callers to affiliates. This benefit may lead RAINN to send a caller to an affiliate even if the referral isn’t in the caller’s best interest.

RAINN’s isn’t the only organizational hotline out there, and while current hotlines may fulfill a victim’s basic needs, victims deserve the ideal care for their individual situations. Bias should not play a role in referring callers to facilities.

If a non-organizational drug hotline is needed to prevent biased rehabilitation and therapy referrals, then isn’t the same needed for a sexual harassment hotline?

Get on it, Illinois.


Nora Smith

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Where’s the hotline?