Stepping Stones

One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. Stepping Stones, YWCA’s sexual assault program, provides 24-hour assistance for sexual assault and sexual abuse victims and their families in McLean County. This free, confidential service also serves as the central sexual assault resource for McLean County. Services focus on empowering survivors, their families, and their friends on the path of healing, building relationships with professionals and agencies that will be part of the process, and educating the community about sexual assault. Stepping Stones also welcomes the opportunity to present information about sexual assault, date rape drugs, dating violence, or rape culture to a wide variety of audiences.

24-Hour Hotline
Sexual assault advocates can be reached by calling
PATH at (309) 827-4005.

Advocates can:
Provide telephone counseling
Help victim report to the police
Accompany victim to hospital to provide advocacy and support.

Volunteer for the hotline here.

Stepping Stones provides counseling to victims of sexual assault. Here are some quick facts about our counseling services:
  • Victim centered approach
  • Individual counseling to males and females ages 3 and up
  • Family counseling
  • Significant other counseling
  • Support Groups
           Adult Support Group - Winter 2015
Medical Advocacy
Stepping Stones can accompany a victim to the hospital to provide advocacy and support.
Legal Advocacy
Stepping Stones can advocate for victims with:
  • Police
  • State's Attourney
  • Court
  • Assist with Civil or No Contact Orders
  • Assist with crime victim's compensation
  • Assist with automated victim notification and other crime victim related progams/statutes.
  • The Illinois Automated Victim Notification System (AVN) is a service through which victims of crime can use the telephone or Internet to search for information regarding the custody and case status of their offender and to register to receive telephone and email notification when the offender's custody or court status has changed. The toll-free number for the Illinois AVN system is (866) 566-8439. This service is provided to assist victims of crime who have a right to know about their offender's custody and case status. Here is a link where victims of crime can go for notifications. Assistance with any aspect of the Criminal Justice process, including registering on the AVN site, can be obtained by contacting Hilary Pacha, Stepping Stones assistant director, at 309-662-0461, ext 275 or
Stepping Stones provides education to schools and community groups on:
  • Sexual Assault
  • Bullying
  • Dating Violence
  • Unsafe Touching
  • Healthy Relationships and More

Volunteer to teach prevention education here.

Volunteer Opportunities
Stepping Stones volunteers are always needed. The 40-hour training covers all information needed to become a trained volunteer advocate. Contact YWCA Stepping Stones at (309) 662-0461, or learn more about the upcoming training here.

The volunteer training covers types of sexual violence, rape trauma syndrome, crisis intervention techniques, listening/communication skills, medical and legal advocacy, psychology of sexual violence and information about community partners providing different levels of assistance to survivors. Confidentiality is required.

After completing the 40-hour training, volunteers are qualified to help in many different Stepping Stones areas:

  • Taking hotline calls
  • Providing prevention education on anti-bullying, sexual violence, healthy relationships, privilege and oppressions, and more in McLean County to schools, businesses, or groups
  • Provide support at public events
  • Data entry and other office work
  • Translating materials from English to Spanish and interpreting during counseling and advocacy sessions
Upcoming Volunteer Training Schedule
Tuesdays and Thursdays, February 3-26, 6-9 p.m. and Saturdays, February 7 and 21, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Training is held at YWCA McLean County, 1201 N. Hershey Rd. in Bloomington (lower level entrance).

If you are interested, please fill out an application form (requires Adobe Acrobat reader) and submit to Elizabeth Rardin at YWCA McLean County, 1201 N. Hershey Rd., Bloomington, IL 61704 or at the email address below by Monday, January 19, 2015. You will be contacted to schedule an orientation/interview once the form is received. If you would like more information or have questions, please call Hilary at (309) 662-0461, ext. 275 or email 

Professional Training 
Stepping Stones, YWCA’s sexual assault program, is offering 40 hours of training to help professionals better identify, understand, and support survivors of sexual assault. This training will help professionals do their job more effectively when encountering survivors of sexual assault.

Learn about rape culture and how it affects our society and the different systems within our community. Crisis intervention techniques will be taught, along with what rape trauma syndrome is, how to recognize it, the acute and long-term effects rape has on survivors and their families, and much more. Also learn how to connect survivors and their families to Stepping Stones services. This training is recommended for health care personnel, law enforcement, education, social services agencies, and anyone who may come in contact with survivors of sexual assault or their families.

If you would like to attend the professional training, please fill out a registration form (requires Adobe Acrobat reader) and submit to Hilary Pacha at YWCA McLean County, 1201 N. Hershey Rd., Bloomington, IL 61704 or at the email address below by Wednesday, January 14, 2014. If you would like more information or have questions, please call Hilary at (309) 662-0461, ext. 275or email 

What are Survivors Saying?

"When I come to YWCA, I feel like I am a part of something special. I feel like it's okay to share my feelings and be open with my group members. These are the people who do care. And I know that I am not alone in this world. It's a nice feeling when I come here and I feel safe. The best part about Stepping Stones' group sessions is that I feel like I can be myself, and when I'm down, it's okay to tell someone so they can help me through it."

"Stepping Stones has been a very positive, reassuring experience. I was made aware of the rights I have as a victim and given the opportunity to stand up for myself and heal."

"It takes a village to help a survivor and I'm so happy that YWCA Stepping Stones was there for me and other survivors like me."

"It has been wonderful having someone to listen and provide vital feedback concerning the abuse and how it has affected my life. The sexual assault services have been a God-send and I am very grateful for them."

"I absolutely love this program. The Stepping Stones staff has helped me so much. They taught me how to cope in positive ways and move forward to my goal of becoming a healed survivor. Now I am able to build happy and healthy relationships thanks to Stepping Stones."

YWCA Stepping Stones
(309) 662-0461
PATH 24-Hour Hotline
(309) 827-4005
(800) 570-PATH (toll free)
Illinois Automated Victim Notification System
(866) 566-8439
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
(217) 753-4117
Contact Information

Nicole Kirstein
(309) 662-0461, ext. 271
Hilary Pacha
Assistant Director
(309) 662-0461, ext. 275
Heather Johnson
(309) 662-0461, ext. 279
Darci Thompson
IL Imagines Prevention Educator
(309) 662-0461, ext. 293
Danielle Beaseley 
(309) 662-0461, ext 290
Sarah Dolk
Prevention Educator
(309) 662-0461, ext. 291
Kara Alt 
Medical/Legal Advocate
(309) 662-0461, ext 267