April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In the late 1980’s, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault was looking to develop an interest in designating a time to promote awareness. Through a poll of like organizations, it was determined April was a suitable month and Sexual Assault Awareness Week began. It was in the late 1990’s that the awareness campaign expanded to the entire month of April and in 2001, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, as we know it now, was celebrated for the first time.
April is usually a busy month in the Rape Crisis Center. Staff and volunteers could be found throughout the community raising awareness about sexual violence. The Center would work hand-in-hand with local colleges and universities to bring awareness to their students who are at a much higher risk for victimization. We were in the middle of our planning when the state began their recommendations for staying at home. This meant many of the events in which we were scheduled to participate were cancelled. As a result, this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign became virtual. The Center made daily posts to social media to educate and bring awareness.
During this pandemic, the two most important services provided by the Rape Crisis Center have not waivered. Our 24-hour hotline has continued to be answered and our advocates have continued reporting to local hospitals where victims are treated. At the request of these hospitals, we ensured all advocates would have proper identification indicating they were with the Center and agreed to all screening measures the hospitals felt necessary. By abiding by these requests, advocates have continued to meet victims in local emergency rooms.
On March 17th, all staff from the Center began working from home. This has also had no effect on the services provided to victims. Advocates are still assisting victims with legal cases, helping them get Civil Protection Orders, and providing continued support. Advocates will continue to accompany victims for necessary meetings and hearings.
If you, or anyone you know, is in need of our services, please do not hesitate to reach out to our 24-hour hotline @ 866.557.7273.