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SAF Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

OSWEGO, NY – According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), every 2 minutes, a woman is sexually assaulted in the U.S.

Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature Kevin Gardner presents representatives from Oswego County Opportunities Crisis and Development Prevention and Intervention Services with a certificate proclaiming April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Oswego County.  The Oswego County Legislature joins advocates and communities across the country in playing an active role to prevent sexual violence. From left are:  Ellen Lazarek, Toni Ross, Julia Preston-Fulton, Sara Gozzi, Chairman Gardner, Megan Bittel, Director of OCO Crisis and Development Services Eric Bresee, Christine Dowd, Kathleen Knopp, Meredith Needham and Shannon Endsley.
Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature Kevin Gardner presents representatives from Oswego County Opportunities Crisis and Development Prevention and Intervention Services with a certificate proclaiming April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Oswego County. The Oswego County Legislature joins advocates and communities across the country in playing an active role to prevent sexual violence. From left are: Ellen Lazarek, Toni Ross, Julia Preston-Fulton, Sara Gozzi, Chairman Gardner, Megan Bittel, Director of OCO Crisis and Development Services Eric Bresee, Christine Dowd, Kathleen Knopp, Meredith Needham and Shannon Endsley.

However, sexual assault and rape continue to be one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. In addition, girls ages 16-19 are 4x more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year’s campaign focuses on campus sexual violence prevention.

In solidarity with communities across the nation, Oswego County Opportunities Services to Aid Families program is encouraging community members to join the conversation.

Start talking about sexual violence prevention on college campuses. It is important for all members of Oswego County to no longer allow silence and instead work towards addressing the destructive and ever-present issue of sexual assault and abuse.

SAF, Oswego County’s Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center, has provided crisis, support, advocacy and educational services throughout the county for more than 30 years.

To move towards the creation of a violence free community, and to commemorate April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SAF hosted and participated in the following special events and activities during the month.

– The Clothesline Project on display at Oswego County’s college campuses; Cayuga Community College, Fulton Campus and SUNY Oswego’s Campus Center. 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.

– National Crime Victims Rights Week, April 19 through 25, which was highlighted by the SAF program’s annual tree planting ceremony at William J. Farley Jr. Community Park in Phoenix to honor victims of crime.

– SAF held bar outreach events from 10 p.m. – midnight at a variety of bars in the city of Oswego to bring awareness to the community about Sexual Assault Awareness Month and encourage community members to work towards preventing sexual assault from happening as well as being aware of the signs and warning flags they may see while out in a social setting.

– April 29 is National Denim Day. Denim Day is an event in which people are encouraged to wear jeans (denim) in order to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault. Denim Day originated when female members of the Italian Parliament wore jeans in protest of a judge overturning a rape conviction because he felt victim’s jeans were too tight for the perpetrator to remove them without the victim’s help. As of 2011 at least 20 U.S. states officially recognize Denim Day. Wearing jeans on this day has become an international symbol of protest against destructive attitudes about sexual assault.

“Ending sexual violence will not be possible without the support of our community members, said SAF Education Program Manager Meredith Needham. “We challenge you to help engage men, women and children in sexual assault prevention and awareness. By coming together to say ‘No More’ to sexual violence, members of our community can work towards creating environments where people are safe and respected in their relationships and victims receive the support they deserve.”

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 Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600.

The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours a day, with collect calls accepted within Oswego County.

SAF is funded through grants from the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women and the New York State Department of Health.

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 80 separate locations. For more information, visit www.oco.org