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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Having a conversation about sexual assault is a difficult topic for many people. The Family Center is working to raise awareness in April.

March 28, 2024 5:10 PM CDT

By: Melissa Kaye

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis (WFHR, WIRI) – Sexual assault happens in all walks of life. Most people aren’t even aware it’s going on. Survivors of sexual assault often face skepticism when they try to tell someone what’s happening or has happened to them in the past. Jessica, Program Services Manager with the Family Center in Wisconsin Rapids, sat down with James Malouf on Mid-day Magazine to talk about awareness. They also discussed what people can do to educate themselves and help make our community a safer place. Everyone knows someone who is or has been a victim of sexual assault, but they may not even realize it.

Talk about it as a community

The burden of bringing awareness to sexual assault most often falls on those who have lived through the experience. Jessica said it’s important for people who haven’t experienced sexual violence to start doing their own personal research to become advocates. She said people often expect those who have lived it to talk about it. When communities are not afraid to talk about the difficult topic of sexual assault, victims feel supported and more empowered to seek help.

The burden falls on victims

You can be a safe place

People who are experiencing sexual assault may be afraid to come forward and ask for help. Something anyone can do is learn how to listen and be a safe place. Jessica said if you make it known that you are a safe person, you will likely hear more disclosures. If you make it known that you generally don’t believe people, they’re not going to tell you what is happening or has happened to them.

You can be a safe place

How can I educate myself?

The Central Wisconsin Cultural Center will host an exhibit called The Art of Healing. It will be on display from April 8th through the 18th. Many of the works contained in the collection were created during the 1990’s by survivors of childhood sexual assault. The exhibit is intended for adults ages 18 and older and a Wisconsin Rapids Family Center advocate will be on-site while the exhibit is open to the public. Jessica said the exhibit could be triggering for some. You can feel a lot of pain from the art, but you can also feel hope and resiliency.

Art exhibit

Where to go for help

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, you can call the Family Center in Wisconsin Rapids 24-hour crisis line at 715-421-1511. Every call is confidential and answered by trained staff twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

You can hear the full interview with James Malouf and Jessica from the Wisconsin Rapids Family Center on Mid-day Magazine. It took place on March 26, 2024.

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