Activities during SAAM help fight sexual assault

To the editor:

The Abuse Network would like to thank the communities we serve for their participation in Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Many people believe that as a community we are insulated from the effects of sexual assault, yet one in five children, one in five women, and one in 33 men are victims. When we couple the effects on victims with the effects on their loved ones we must recognize that this is a problem of epidemic proportions. Community participation is a vital part of the quest to end sexual assault and violence.

The response was overwhelming for Sexual Assault Awareness Month – SAAM. Our agency was inspired and humbled by the efforts of the communities we serve. We received great media coverage from local radio stations and newspapers in Mifflin, Juniata, and Huntingdon counties. We thank them for giving this issue the time and attention that is so desperately needed to start the conversation about sexual abuse and violence.

Our blue/teal ribbon campaign in the boroughs of Huntingdon and Lewistown garnered a great deal of attention as well. We thank the boroughs for allowing us to place the blue ribbons on parking meters as a visual reminder of the overreaching goals of the activities during the month. We were especially inspired by the students in the Huntingdon area schools with their participation and contributions with the “blue-out” events during the entire SAAM. There were blue lights, blue ribbons and blue shirts everywhere we looked. It got people communicating about the issue which is an important part of ending sexual abuse and violence.

We must also thank Plant Love Joy and Mount Union High School who spearheaded the “blue-out” campaign. We also had a tremendous response to our “Jeans Day” when community members from local businesses and agencies paid to wear jeans to work. The money was then donated to our agency to help support our efforts in raising consciousness about sexual violence. We deeply appreciate this participation in our SAAM efforts.

It is through community awareness, community support, and community education that we will change the powerful effects that sexual violence has on its victims and our communities. With such an inspirational level of support we can look forward to a world that will someday be free from sexual violence.

On behalf of the advocates of The Abuse Network and the many survivors we serve, our most sincere thanks.

Beth R. Birch

Director of Services

The Abuse Network Inc.