The Impact of Amanda LeBlanc and San Mateo Rape Trauma Services


Jack Freeman

Visitors who step through this door enter the office of San Mateo Rape Trauma Services.

Jack Freeman, Staff Writer

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, many people believe that the sexual assault problem that has been plaguing our country is getting better. And while it is, the problem is nowhere near fixed, especially for survivors.

Amanda Leblanc is my mom, and she has been working to help survivors of rape for longer than I have been alive. She first started in 1996 in Chico, California.

“I took my first volunteer training when I first moved to college and got my first counselor job in 1996,” Amanda LeBlanc told the Woodside Paw Print. “It was life-changing, I just knew this is what I was meant to do. Working with survivors.. is really where my heart and soul [is].”

Over the years, she worked her way up through the nonprofits. Around 2013, she finally got her dream job at the San Mateo County Rape Trauma Services (RTS).

“I am the program director of the service here, which includes three buckets of services which includes our counseling program, crisis intervention program, and education program,” LeBlanc explained.

Although many perpetrators of sexual assault have been brought into the media spotlight, survivors may receive less attention. One common concern for these survivors is where they can get help.

RTS is located in Burlingame and is located very close to the Millbrae Bart station,” RTS employee and Educator Kelson Pamarang described. “We also have a 24-Hour Crisis Line (650-692-7273), and we have an office number (650-652-0598) which you can contact anytime. We [RTS Educators] go around San Mateo County from kindergarten to college and give lessons everywhere around consent and how to deal with violence.”

Another Educator, Emma Cohen, hopes to change the public mindset towards survivors of sexual assault and bring light to their experiences, not just to the stories of the perpetrators.

“The most important thing to know is that it is never the survivor’s fault,” Cohen stated. “I know we hear a lot, ‘why were you at that party, why were you so drunk’… and we wish that they could have kept themselves safe or we could have kept themselves safe… and what I like to say is that the only thing people deserve from getting super drunk is a hangover. The only reason people get hurt is because someone decided to hurt someone else.”

Lately, there has been a growing movement in California to remove the word rape from offices because of some fear that it would neglect other people’s personal struggles. But, the San Mateo County Rape Trauma Services Office believes that such an action would only further stigmatize rape and make survivors feel ashamed.

“We are one of the few centers that still has [rape] in the name,” Leblanc elaborated. “We very much stand that when anyone can say the word rape without shame or guilt, we will consider changing our name.”

The most important thing to know is that it is never the survivor’s fault… The only reason people get hurt is because someone decided to hurt someone else.”

— Emma Cohen

Many people may think that, with the numerous convictions of sex offenders, sexual assault is no longer the drastic problem it once was. But the fact of the matter is, these problems are still prevalent and we need to focus on better supporting survivors. Luckily for everyone, nonprofits like San Mateo County Rape Trauma Services are here to help.