The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. During 2012, 11 victims reported a sexual assault to the Marshall Police Department. However, sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, with 54 percent still being left unreported (RAINN.org). One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives, (Black, M. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M. R. 2011). These statistics begin to tell the story of sexual violence and how it impacts the individual and the community.
This month and throughout the year, the Lyon County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Response Team encourages all individuals and organizations to understand some of the causes of sexual violence, discuss them among their colleagues and friends and perhaps challenge them. The Lyon County S.M.A.R.T. focuses on creating and implementing a victim centered multi-agency response to meet the specific needs of individuals who experience sexual assault and to better achieve justice and healing.
The city of Marshall proclaims April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and commends this observance to the citizens of Marshall.
To create further awareness about this month, teal ribbons are displayed on various light poles in downtown Marshall. Free teal ribbons are available for community members to wear and highlight SAAM. Stop by New Horizons Crisis Center office located at 109 South 5th St., Suite 40 in Marshall.
"April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play raising awareness for sexual violence prevention," said Jessica Van Iperen, the S.M.A.R.T. site coordinator. "Everyone's participation is critical. Focusing on ways to promote healthy relationships by challenging the messages received by media and culture, showcasing teal ribbons on Facebook, or changing your front door light to teal are all fantastic ways our community can raise awareness and prevention."
For more information about sexual assault programs, services and activities during the month of April and throughout the year, call New Horizons Crisis Center at 507-532-5764.