Porchlight Counseling Services was started in 2004 by a group of community members who were very concerned about the high incidence of sexual assault among college students. These community members gathered together and began discussing what could be done about this problem. They partnered with a psychologist and conducted a feasibility study to find out what college sexual assault survivors most needed. They also formed a small Board of Directors and became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation. Once the feasibility study was completed, it was clear that many college students did not seek out the services they needed. Why? The students feared that their peers would see them going into the college counseling office and might start asking questions. Thus the shame they felt about what happened to them kept them from seeking the very services that could ease their pain. It was then decided that Porchlight Counseling Services would offer off-campus advocacy and services to this underserved population within the service area of Chicago and Evanston.

Anne Bent of Lake Bluff, Illinois, is the founder of Porchlight Counseling Services. Ms. Bent was introduced to the topic of college sexual assault when she took her youngest child off to college. The university that she visited talked openly about rape on campus. Anne, a Chaplain, started asking her friends in the field about this topic, read a lot, attended national conferences, sought guidance from the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago and met with staff, Deans and other university officials in the Chicago area to learn more about the scope of sexual assault. She was appalled to learn about the great scope of this problem and the devastating and lifelong affects that it can have on a young person. However, she was uplifted to hear about the great amount of healing that can happen via counseling and other supportive services.

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