Kelly Petersen: Courageous Counselor

Before Kelly Petersen, Nevada was the only state without rape counseling. Today, she is helping secure immediate and long-term help for sexual assault victims, one step at a time. A longtime board member of Nevada Women’s Philanthropy, Petersen eventually became involved with The Rape Crisis Center, a small nonprofit organization and the only one of its kind in Las Vegas. Earlier this year, she helped found and open its new NWP Signs of Hope Counseling Center.

“A woman is three times as likely to be raped in Nevada than anywhere else in the country,” she says. “Yet we were the only state that didn’t have counseling.” Signs of Hope opened in February, after The Rape Crisis Center was chosen to receive a highly coveted $350,000 grant by NWP in 2010. Petersen was asked to be on the advisory council that monitors how the grant money is distributed and spent. Since learning about the discrepancy between the staggering local statistics and how few support services were available for rape victims, she has been on board every step of the way.

And it’s only part of the work Petersen is doing to get the word out. “If we get more support from the police, from the courts, and from social media, and we get younger girls to report the crimes, that’s very important as well,” she says. “The thing that is really important is that there is help, there is hope, and you can heal.”—EMMA TROTTER

Shirt, Chloé. Pants, Catherine Malandrino. Belt and boots, Fendi. Necklace and watch, Van Cleef & Arpels. All available at The Shoppes at The Palazzo. Hair and makeup by Jorge Cossio at Tease Salon

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