“Shine The Light” is the theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2013, which takes place in April. “We want to shine the light on sexual assault in our community throughout the month,” said Janet Byars, Family Support Services’ executive director. “Building awareness of the problem is the first step toward making a positive change.”
April 17th has been declared “Go Teal” day statewide and everyone is encouraged to wear teal on that day in support of sexual assault awareness. FSS is also asking businesses to shine teal lights and disseminate information to their employees regarding sexual assault.
The agency will also contact restaurants, bars and other facilities for a “bathroom blitz” in April, Byars said. Flyers with important information about sexual assault will be placed inside bathroom stalls of cooperating businesses.
“Sexual assault is not just a problem somewhere else,” Byars said. “It is prevalent right here in our community. During April, we want to make sure people are aware of the problem so that they can take steps to stay safe.”
In fiscal year 2012, FSS served 787 victims of sexual assault and took 2,165 sexual assault-related calls on the 24-hour Crisis Hotline, 374-LIFE (5433).
More than 200,000 sexual assaults occur each year in the U.S., and the vast majority are never reported to police. More than 80% of victims are under age 30, and 44% are under the age of 18. Sexual assault is a crime that crosses all age, gender, and socio-economic demographics.
FSS offers community presentations on personal safety, sexual assault, and many other topics. To schedule a presentation, contact Terri Barker at 342-2528.
Sexual assault prevention and intervention services offered through Family Support Services include:
- 24-hour assistance to victims of sexual assault - every time a victim is reported at Northwest Texas Hospital or The Bridge, FSS sends a trained crisis volunteer or staff member to provide a compassionate advocate;
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline, 374-5433;
- Secure emergency shelter if needed;
- Face-to-face crisis intervention - Hotline callers and clients seen at the hospital or The Bridge are referred to the agency’s crisis interventionists for additional assistance;
- Advocacy/accompaniment through medical, legal, and judicial systems;
- Sexual assault survivors’ group;
- Counseling services; and
- Violence prevention education programs for all ages, including many programs in local and area schools.