HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The state’s Office of Victims’ Services is now paying for therapy for victims of sexual abuse. It is now accepting claims.
The new program is modeled after the Victims Compensation Assistance Program, but one difference is victims don’t have to report crimes to be eligible.
“This does not require you to report to law enforcement,” said Jennifer Storm, the state’s victim advocate. “You do not need to file within any specific time frame.”
This covers up to $5,000 of therapy and counseling for adults and up to $10,000 for kids. That includes co-pays for people with insurance and the entire cost of appointments for those without insurance.
“This really expands Governor Wolf’s mission to increase protections for vulnerable populations and it includes services for mental health and thorough the ‘Reach Out PA: “Your Mental Health Matters initiative,” said Lyndsay Kensinger, a deputy press secretary for Governor Tom Wolf.
“It was put in the state of limitations bill which we think is a really good addition to the bill and it’s going to help hopefully thousands of victims,” said Storm.
As of now, there is $5 million set aside to pay for these claims.
The state is working with local resource centers to help people find providers and to educate survivors on other resources available for free.
“Not only is the fund confidential but then also the counseling or therapy you would receive from that provider is confidential,” said Storm.
Storm says the impacts of sexual abuse can last a lifetime, which is why getting help is so critical.
“It’s also going to make all the world of difference as to whether that victim chooses to go down a path of negative coping mechanisms because they don’t have that support network or they don’t have access to counseling,” said Storm.