Month of April designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual assault is a public health issue affecting women, children, men, and entire communities.

Nearly 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes, and 1 in 10 children will be the victim of sexual assault. The economic costs of sexual violence can range from $87,000 to $240,776 per rape. These fees include medical services, criminal justice fees, and lost contributions from individuals affected. Victims of assault may experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse that lasts for years.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a national campaign that is recognized each April to bring attention to the issues of sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. The theme for this year’s awareness campaign is “Engaging New Voices”, and the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons is actively pursuing new voices to join in the awareness efforts of sexual violence prevention in the 6 counties served by this agency. Last year, the Cumbee Center offered free services to at least 150 victims of sexual assault. Services offered to victims included hospital accompaniment, 24-hour hotline, crisis intervention, emergency shelter, counseling, and support groups.

In the effort to provide the best response to victims of sexual assault, the Cumbee Center is collaborating with Law Enforcement agencies in six counties, the Department of Social Services, Forensic Nurse Examiners at Aiken Regional Medical Centers, and representatives of the solicitor’s office to form a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). The purpose of SART is to provide a full range of comprehensive services for victims by having all crisis responders gather for quarterly meetings to discuss best methods in providing medical, legal, and advocacy services for clients.

To engage the voices of men and boys in our mission to change our culture to prevent sexual violence, we will be holding 3 “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” events in April. As the saying goes, “You can’t understand someone’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

To fully understand why we hold this event, please read more on the international Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault, and Gender Violence at www.walkamileinhershoes.org and join us at our Aiken event on April 13 at the Aiken County Court House at 6 p.m. Check in begins at 5:45 p.m. Chief Barranco of Aiken Department of Public Safety will be the guest speaker.

We will hold one in Williston on the Main Street Walking Trail at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 20. The guest speaker will be Chief Rodney Pruitt of the Williston Police Department.

Or join us in North Augusta at 6 p.m. on April 27 at the corner of Buena Vista and Georgia Avenue. Chief Thomas of the North Augusta Public Safety Department will be the guest speaker for this event.

Teal is the official color for sexual assault awareness, so the Cumbee Center plans to hang teal ribbons in Aiken, North Augusta, and Williston to coincide with the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes events.

The Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons urges individuals and groups in all of our counties to unite your voices with ours to help the next generation foster positive attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality, and respect. By working together, we can create safe and equitable communities.

For more information about sexual assault services offered by the Cumbee Center, how to sign up for the Walk a Mile events, or to make a donation, please call 803-649-0480 or visit www.cumbeecenter.org.