Sexual assault awareness group prepares for community seminars
While Sexual Assault Awareness Month of Washington County won’t be officially starting until April, several volunteers are already preparing for the events to help victims of sexual assault as well as people who care for them.
Deanna Hansen, Washington/Van Buren County Services Coordinator for the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, said instead of a week of activities as was done in 2016, the entire month of April will be dedicated to raising awareness of sexual abuse survivors.
“We spend a lot of time during the month to raise awareness for sexual assault survivors and their loved ones,” she said.
On April 1, the group will have a “teal out the square” event to raise awareness. The goal is to paint the windows of businesses on the square and fly ribbons in the color teal as a way of raising awareness of the survivors of sexual violence. Hansen said that last year several businesses held specials for the month.
Volunteer Barb Duder will hold a lecture titled “Mind, Body and Trauma Connection,” on April 10 describing how a person’s brain reacts to trauma. Duder said the lecture would be valuable to many people in how to understand the thought process of someone who has experienced trauma. She said that the trauma doesn’t have to be from sexual violence, but could be from things such as car accidents. The presentation is designed for average people as well as medical and law enforcement professionals.
“We are going to be talking about how the brain reacts when it experiences physical trauma,” she said. “There are things that occur in the mind that change the way we process the memory of what happened and change the way we remember the event.”
The lecture will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Washington Public Library. Both conference rooms have been reserved for the lecture, with the lecture being presented in English in one room and Spanish in the other.
T-shirts to display thoughts on Sexual Assault Awareness Month will be made at Choices, 114 W. Second St., from 6:30 to 8: 30 p.m. April 6 and April 20. Hansen said the shirts would be displayed sometime during the month. The date for the display hasn’t been confirmed yet.
The group will also visit different bars to discuss intervention from bartenders as well as the “angel shot” program. Hansen said that in bars that recognize the program, people could order an angel shot if they feel they are in danger. If someone orders an angel shot, a worker at the establishment will escort the person to their car; if someone orders an angel shot on ice, a worker will arrange for a ride; if someone orders an angel shot with wine, the worker will call the police.
Duder said this is an international program that is widespread on social media.
The group also plans to sell T-shirts describing the meaning of consent.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month of Washington County has a Facebook page that can be used for the latest information about the event. To contact Hansen for more information, call 319-541-2059 or to contact the crisis line any time, call 800-228-1625.