April Marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month
For the City Times
Family Center to host information table at library
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Wisconsin Rapids Family Center will host an informational table display at McMillan Memorial Library, 490 E. Grand Ave., Wisconsin Rapids, during the month of April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Family Center advocates will be available at the following times to answer any questions: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 4, 10, and 11; 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 11; 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 17; and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 24.
It is difficult to determine how many people are affected by sexual violence, as many assaults go unreported for a number of reasons, according to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Victims can be made to feel the assault was somehow their fault, they can be worried about consequences to their perpetrator (who all too often is someone known to the victim and/or an intimate partner), or they might feel that what happened was just “normal” and wasn’t a crime at all, according to a statement on the WCASA website.
“The reality is that we don’t definitively know; the available data cannot begin to paint the complete picture of the scope of the problem,” the statement said.
The Family Center is available to all victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. It is important to know all information is confidential – callers do not even have to leave their name, said Kim Suchowski, the Center’s sexual assault victim services coordinator.
In addition to providing advocacy to victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, The Family Center advocates are available to be with victims during interviews with law enforcement, and also accompany them to the hospital for SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) exam, if the victim so chooses. All decisions always are up to the victim, and Family Center advocates are there to offer choices, and provide support.
According to data on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website:
- From 2006 to 2010, about 4,960 sexual assaults were reported annually to law enforcement;
- 90% of victims know the person who assaults them;
- Two-thirds of the victims of reported assaults are younger than 15 years of age;
- More than four-fifths of victims are female;
- It is estimated that 1 in 7 (14%) Wisconsin women are raped during their lives (Kilpatrick, D.G, Ruggiero, K.J., 2003).
In addition, according to the DHS website, on a national level, only 39 percent of sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement. In Wisconsin, that would equate to an estimated annual incidence of sexual assault of 12,672 – the population of Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
Sexual assault is not just rape – it is defined as a “verbal or physical act that breaks a person’s trust and safety and is sexual in nature. Behaviors range from sexual harassment to unwanted fondling to forced penetration. All are done without consent,” according to Wisconsin statutes.
The Family Center also will host “Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children,” from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. April 22 at The Family Center. The DVD presentation is available at no cost to attendees, and recommended for anyone who works with or has contact with children, especially clergy, parents, lay workers, child/youth staff, teens and young adults, and Sunday school teachers.
Darkness to Light is “the only nationally available program scientifically proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes, and change child-protective behaviors,” the program synopsis reads. Appropriate for any adult, the program will teach those who attend how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.”
Family Center advocates who are authorized facilitators will present the program, which will include a take-home workbook, follow-up discussion, and certificate of attendance.
Anyone wishing to attend “Darkness to Light” is encouraged to reserve his or her spot by calling The Family Center at 715-421-1559 by April 7.
As always, anyone who has experienced domestic and/or sexual violence is encouraged to call The Family Center at 715-421-1511 anytime. All services are confidential and provided at no cost to the victim.
Family Center advocates also are available for presentations to community groups, organizations, and businesses. Call Deb Cleworth at 715-421-1559 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Residents who would like to donate to The Family Center, so it can continue to provide all its services at no cost to victims can call 715-421-1559 or mail a donation to: The Family Center, 500 25th St. N., Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494.