Peggy Pisano & “Lily”

(A LITTLE HELP GOES A LONG WAY)

The Rape Crisis Center of Milford, Inc. was established in 1974 to provide counseling and advocacy to victims of sexual assault and their families.

In the early 70’s, two women, Joy Stonier and Nancy Vinci, recognized the growing problem and steady misconceptions about the issue of sexual assault. These two women sought support from the Milford community to dispel these myths and to establish a safe haven for victims.

This safe haven soon became the Rape Crisis Center of Milford which provided support, counseling and advocacy to victims when needed.

The Center serves the victims of sexual assault, so we have a victim services program, which means responding to our 24 hour, 7 day a week hotline. We accompany victims if they go to the police department or to the hospital. Later if there is an arrest made and a meeting with the prosecutor, or if they testify in court we are with them for the entire process. We offer one on one counseling at our center and these services are provided totally free; we never charge anyone.

The Rape Crisis Center does is our community education, where we give presentations to school children throughout our service area. We meet with kids from Pre-K all the way through 12th grade and we talk about prevention and healthy relationships. If the teachers want specialized education about cyber bullying or sexting, we are happy to present on those topics as well. We also have an advocate that’s dedicated to the University of New Haven, helping college students. We have a wide range of services to offer.

Lily is a 9 year old golden retriever. Two years ago, she was certified through the pet partner’s program to become a therapy dog for the Center. What’s really cool for the work that Lily is doing is that she’s the first and only therapy dog of her kind in the state of CT. It’s kind of a new realm to have a therapy dog in a sexual assault crisis center and it’s a new way to assist victims and provide that therapy of letting someone pet her, hug her and talk to her without any advice or repercussions.

The United Way of Milford was our very first funder; they are our star organization. Had they not been there for us 44 years ago, I am certain that we would not be in existence now. We were a totally grassroots organization without any money or funding and the United Way believed in what we did and they helped support us so we could create our hotline which is our network into the community. Without their funding, that could not have been possible. It has been the most meaningful relationship we’ve had throughout our existence.