OSWEGO, NY – April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
This year’s theme, “Engaging New Voices,” builds on the idea that we are stronger together, and that new partners and community members are needed to expand sexual assault prevention efforts.
We can all help the next generation foster attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality, and respect.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the U.S. are victims of sexual assault.
And an estimated 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
The vast majority of these crimes are at the hands of someone that the victims know, such as an intimate partner, family member or friend, or an acquaintance.
In solidarity with communities across the nation, Oswego County Opportunities Services to Aid Families program is encouraging community members to get involved.
As the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County, SAF served almost 550 victims and survivors of relationship abuse and sexual violence in 2016.
About 1 in 5 of those individuals served identified as a victim of a sexual assault.
“While we are encouraged to see more victims and survivors coming forward for help and support, we know the majority of victims of sexual assault do not report to law enforcement and are still hesitant to come forward,” said SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France. “Therefore, SAF will once again be hosting and participating in a number of special events and activities during the month of April to help raise awareness.”
SAF’s annual Clothesline Project will be displayed in the SUNY Oswego Campus Center; in the lower lobby of the Fulton Medical Center; and at OCO’s Main Office located on 239 Oneida St., Fulton.
This project is a national campaign in which those affected by abuse and violence decorate T-shirts displaying messages that reflect the long-lasting impact of violence on their lives.
SAF will recognize National Denim Day on April 26. Denim Day is a movement to stand up for survivors and protest victim blaming and destructive attitudes that promote sexual violence.
“We encourage individuals to take part in Denim Day by posting a picture on social media of themselves or a group wearing jeans,” added France. “Use the hashtags #OCODENIMDAY2017, #GEARUP, and #DENIMDAY and share why you’re wearing jeans. For more information on denim day, visit www.denimdayinfo.org.”
On April 21, SAF will host a bar outreach event with the help of students and volunteers from the SUNY Oswego Campus. During this event, staff and volunteers will visit a variety of establishments along Bridge Street in the city of Oswego to engage bartenders and bar patrons about proper consent and services available to support victims and survivors of sexual violence.
Additionally, the Oswego County Legislature will present a proclamation to SAF at its meeting on April 13 at 7 p.m.
“We know that one month is not enough to solve the serious and widespread issue of sexual violence. But the attention April generates is an opportunity to energize and expand prevention efforts,” France said. “We can all act to stop sexual violence before it has a chance to happen by addressing root causes and social norms that allow it to exist.”
Step in when you see someone’s actions are creating an unsafe environment for others.
Speak up when she hear a friend say things like, ‘she was asking for it.’
Promote and model healthy attitudes and relationships.
Believe survivors when they disclose abuse.
When a friend tells you he or she was sexually assaulted, let the only question you ask be, “how can I help?”
If you or someone you know is a survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking, please call the SAF Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600.
The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours.
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.
OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.
A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 100 separate locations.
For more information, visit www.oco.org.