OSWEGO, NY – During the month of April, communities and victim service providers across the United States will be hosting events and campaigns in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about the epidemic issue of sexual violence in our country and to educate individuals on the impact and prevention of sexual violence in our communities. This year’s theme of It’s time…to get involved, helps to emphasize the need of all members of our community to work in collaboration to address the destructive and ever present issue of sexual assault and abuse throughout Oswego County.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that nearly 20 percent of our country’s population has experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lifetime. With such staggering numbers of individuals directly affected by sexual violence, Services to Aid Families, a Program of Oswego County Opportunities, will be reaching out to community members, local agencies, and businesses to assist them in raising awareness in our community. SAF is the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County and has provided crisis, supportive, advocacy and educational services throughout Oswego County for more than 30 years.
Each day, people witness a continuum of behaviors that range from being respectful and safe, to sexually abusive and violent. Through the use of a primary prevention approach to raise awareness, educate about sexual violence and empower bystanders to intervene in a responsible way, we are able to create environments where people are safe in their relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, work places and communities. To move towards the creation of a violence free community and to commemorate April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SAF will be hosting special events and activities throughout the county during the month of April.
In collaboration with a multitude of bars, restaurants, community agencies and businesses throughout Oswego County, the SAF Program will be hanging potty posters, distributing cocktail napkins addressing drug facilitated sexual assault and displaying the clothesline project. The Clothesline Project is a national campaign in which those affected by abuse and violence decorate T-shirts displaying messages reflecting the long lasting impact of sexual violence on the lives of victims, their loved ones and families. The SAF staff would like to recognize all of the individual groups and businesses with gratitude and thanks in showing your support in ending sexual violence.
In recognition of victims of crime and as part of National Crime Victims Week, SAF held its 11th annual tree planting ceremony on April 12 at the Town of Hastings Municipal Building. The tree is meant to be a living sign of hope for those affected by crime that their community has not forgotten about them and supports them in their struggles to rebuild their lives. It is the goal of the SAF Program to plant a tree in every city, town and village throughout Oswego County to demonstrate that victimization occurs in all areas of our community and can affect anyone. It is also important to recognize that this event would not be possible without the generous donation of the tree from Lasnicki Landscaping and the support of the Town of Hastings.
Members of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, victim service providers from across the United States and specifically the SAF Program stand in solidarity to say, It’s time … to get involved Oswego County! Ending sexual violence will not be possible without the support of our community members. We challenge you to help engage men, women and children in sexual assault prevention and awareness. In standing as one, Oswego County can realize the goal of establishing environments where people are safe and respected in their relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and communities.
For more information about how you can get involved, to learn more about sexual violence or if you or someone you know is a survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking please call the Abuse & Assault Hotline at (315) 342-1600. The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours, with collect calls accepted within Oswego County.
A private, non-profit agency, OCO’s many programs touch the lives of more than 28,000 Oswego County residents each. One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO employs more than 650 people and boasts a volunteer force of 1,000. Now in its 45th year, OCO continues to build partnerships and is on a roll as it strives to improve the quality of life in Oswego County by helping people, supporting communities and changing lives. For more information, visit the OCO website at www.oco.org