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Opinion

RIORDAN: Embrace your role in ending sexual assault

To the Editor:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Embrace Your Voice,” builds on the idea that we, along with our 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.

Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men are victims of sexual assault (Black et al., 2011). We all have a role to play in preventing sexual violence in our community. Our actions, big and small, have a ripple effect on those we teach, guide and influence. From modeling healthy behavior to addressing inappropriate conduct, everyone can make a difference.

Changing beliefs which contribute to sexual violence starts with believing survivors of sexual violence when they share their stories. You can help by calling out victim-blaming comments or rape jokes if you see them online. Remind those around you sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Seemingly small actions like this make a critical impact.

Get engaged this April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Join us in embracing your role in ending sexual assault. ADV & SAS, a nonprofit agency that provides domestic violence and sexual assault services to victims and their support persons, will team with Illinois Valley Community College’s Student Services and Human Services Organization for a screening of The Hunting Ground from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 11. This free event is open to the public and lunch will be provided. ADV & SAS also will display the Clothesline Project at IVCC throughout April.

ADV & SAS provides free and confidential services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in La Salle and Livingston counties. Services offered include therapy, counseling, prevention education, medical and legal advocacy, emergency shelter,and a 24-hour crisis hotline. For more information about services or to reach our 24-hour crisis line please contact 800-892-3375.

CORTNIE RIORDAN

Children’s Counselor

ADV & SAS

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