In 1995, the rape crisis centers in the State of Alabama came together for a meeting initiated by Julie Lindsey, the coordinator of the Montgomery rape crisis center, the Council Against Rape. This was the beginning of what was to become the Alabama Coalition Against Rape (ACAR).
The group became incorporated on October 23, 1995, filed bylaws and began meeting regularly. By 1997, the Alabama Department of Public Health awarded ACAR a Violence Against Women Act grant for rape prevention education. A Prevention Educator was hired.
The office took shape. Contacts developed. And by the winter of 1997, four staff members – including two Prevention Educators – were in place. Their jobs took them to counties not being served by a rape crisis program. The Prevention Educators took the programs to junior and senior high schools, colleges, community and civic clubs, churches, hospitals and other locations within the 15 underserved counties. Topics included safety tips, date rape drugs, how to recognize dangerous situations and what help is available to those who are victimized.
ACAR took a bigger leap in its mission. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs awarded a grant in 1998 for ACAR to conduct law enforcement trainings across the state. Conducted by nationally known trainers, the conferences covered topics including techniques for interviewing sexual assault victims, profiling rapists, evidence collection, DNA technology and on policies and procedures regarding sexual assault.
By using technology, law enforcement training reached hundreds of line officers, supervisors, chiefs and sheriffs. The trainings earned excellent ratings by the participants, who stated that the subject had long been overlooked. Some officers received advanced training on crisis intervention and rape response.
In 1999, this same grant was renewed and expanded to include training for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). ACAR hosted the first statewide SANE training. Then, about 55 registered nurses received 20-plus hours of training on conducting a rape exam, working with sexual assault survivors and collaborating with allied agencies.
Two more grants followed in response to ACAR’s success. The Alabama Power Foundation provided funds for ACAR to develop and distribute a law enforcement training video and the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation awarded funds to ACAR for the development and distribution of a newsletter. In 2010 ACAR changed its name to the Alabama Coalition Against Sexual Violence. Alabama Coalition Against Sexual Violence continues to expand its prevention programs to prosecutors and probation/parole officers. The agency also is steadfast in being a voice for the victims and stamping out the myths surrounding sexual violence.