In her five years as a sexual assault counselor, Glenda Pribus has been called upon to comfort molested children and guide rape survivors through the criminal justice system.
As rough as the encounters can be, the San Clemente woman continues to volunteer her time at the Community Service Program's Sexual Assault Victims Service, Orange County's only rape crisis center.
"I like to help people," said Pribus, one of about 50 volunteer counselors. "I think it's been a good (experience) because I now have a very high awareness of my surroundings. But I am probably also less trusting."
The nonprofit organization is seeking more counselors for the assault hot line and to assist rape victims at hospitals and in court. The center is based in Irvine but provides free services to residents across the county.
"We are looking for someone willing to learn and assist individuals who need help," said Barbara West, assistant director of the victim services center. "People who are very healthy themselves and who can actively listen."
Those interested in becoming counselors will have to complete a 48-hour training program taught by therapists and by representatives of local police departments and the district attorney's office.
The training program addresses situations that counselors will face in the field, such as child abuse, acquaintance rape and cultural diversity, West said. Prospective counselors also will learn about police, court and hospital procedures.
"It takes someone who is non-judgmental and is able to respond with openness," West said. "It's important to hear what people need and not to go with preconceived notions."
The organization's rape crisis hot line receives 300 to 500 calls a month. Counselors are called to offer support to sexual abuse survivors about 1,500 times each year in hospitals, police stations and court.
The hot line number is (714) 957-2737. People interested in becoming counselors may call (714) 756-0677.