Victims Services Available During COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency

Press release from Alachua County

During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, the Alachua County Victims Services and Rape Crisis Center has suspended all in-person contact with clients but continues to respond to victims and survivors of crime with 24-hour phone support. They are continuing to provide information to victims on their reporting and medical options, safety planning, and emotional support/counseling services by phone. The community is encouraged to continue sharing and utilizing their 24-hour helpline at 352-264-6760 as a resource for sexual assault survivors and other crime victims who need a safe person to talk to.

Other local victim and trauma support organizations have adjusted how they are working during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency as well. Here is a list of organizations and agencies.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office – The Victim Services Unit at the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) has suspended in-person services due to the Coronavirus and related State and Local Orders to stay at home. For victims who report to ACSO, victim advocates are reviewing reports daily and reaching out by phone or mail. Should you want to speak with a Victim Advocate from ACSO, call and leave a message at 352-367-4056. An advocate will call you back. If there is an emergency, please call 911.

University of Florida Child Protection Team – In the face of this unprecedented health crisis, the University of Florida’s Child Protection Team will continue to provide our essential services. They have taken precautions within their office to accomplish social distancing while still providing services.  They realize that while most of the community are sheltering in safe places with family, many children are experiencing an increase in child abuse and neglect with the elimination of school, sports activities, and daycare as an outlet. The UF Child Protection Team is available 24/7 at 352-627-5077 to meet the needs of the children and families they serve. 

Office of Victim Services – The Office of Victim Services (OVS) has suspended all in-person contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they are still available to assist clients by email and phone. OVS is available 24/7 to offer services to all victims of crimes, provide information on reporting, medical options, and safety planning, and connect victims with counseling, Title IX, and academic resources. Those needing to contact OVS can call 352-392-5648 or 352-392-1111 (after hours) or OVS@mailufl.edu.

State Attorneys Office – Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Office of the State Attorney has temporarily suspended face-to-face contact with victims and witnesses of crime and have changed operating hours to Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Victim Services Division will have one advocate daily that will physically be available at the office to take incoming calls from victims. All Victim Services staff, while at home, are monitoring their individual emails and phone messages and will attempt to respond to those calls and messages within 24 to 48 hours. Services for victims in updating case information, preparing victim impact statements, providing safety planning, and emotional support will continue by phone. Those needing to contact the State Attorneys Office can 352-374-3670 during the above working hours to request victim assistance.

Peaceful Paths – Peaceful Paths is open to meet the needs of survivors in residential and outreach programs, while also ensuring advocates are not put at risk. Shelter services remain unchanged and are operating with a continued focus on survivor emergency housing needs. Walk-in services remain available at our N.W. Gainesville Outreach Office Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide support, resources, and crisis intervention. The 24-hour helpline also will remain available at all times at 352-377-8255. Legal services remain open and available by contacting our legal assistant (text or talk) at 352-317-2348. Victims who cannot leave or who choose to stay in their homes can be provided resources and referrals for additional safety measures and emergency contacts. Victims who cannot access the phone for a call can text Peaceful Paths at 352-727-0948 or 352-316-9958.

For more information, contact Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center Community Education Project Coordinator Cassandra Moore at 352-264-6712 or camoore@alachuacounty.us.