The Orange County Rape Crisis Center brought two new employees on board in August and September.
The two new staff members include Programs Director Bethany Wichman-Buescher and Latino Services Coordinator Gyslaine Nunez Guerrero.
Shamecca Bryant, executive director of the center, said both of the new employees have rich experiences in sexual assault-related counseling before they came to the center.
She said the former programs director left the center to pursue Ph.D. at UNC School of Social Work. The former Latino services coordinators have left the center but are continually doing anti-sexual assault work.
Wichman-Buescher, who began her job at the center in August, said she wanted to be programs director because she loves working with survivors, and the center is well-established and well-connected with the local community.
“I also think that it’s such an amazing thing to see the resiliency of survivors that I work with – you know, they really have the resources within themselves and they already have access to a lot of resources, and I am more like a listening ear,” she said.
Before she worked at the center, Wichman-Buescher worked at the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, also known as RAINN, in Washington D.C., where she managed online and telephone hotlines, according to the center’s press release.
Wichman-Buescher said as program director, she is in charge of the center’s support groups, educational programs and other direct services. She said she could provide referrals to other resources that the survivors may not know, and they can make decisions themselves what is the next step.
Guerrero, who just began this September, said her bilingual skills in Spanish and English would help Latino survivors overcome language barriers.
Guerrero said male-dominant culture in Latino communities often hinders women from seeking help and exposes them to a higher risk of sexual assault.
“One of the things that I want to focus on is trying to make women understand that they are not owned by men and that they can take their own decisions,” she said.
She added that she wants to let Latino survivors know that domestic violence and sexual violence is not something normal and it’s not something that they should accept.
Her past experiences include working for the Migrant Health Center, where she was an HIV counselor and project leader. She also worked at Casa La Providencia helping women in long-term substance abuse residential treatment and recover from traumatic experiences related to sexual assaults, according to the center’s press release.
She said the biggest difference between her current job at the center and her previous jobs is that the center is less directive and lets the survivors make their own choices.
“We are here to provide support and to listen to them, but they make final decisions because they are the ones that understand what’s better for them,” Guerrero said.
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