New Philadelphia, Ohio - The Tuscarawas County Commissioners are shedding light on an issue that has impacted an estimated 1 in 71 men and 1 in 5 women.
The commissioners issued a proclamation Monday to declare April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in Tuscarawas County. Board of Commissioners President Joe Sciarretti says this was a way to make people aware of the issue and agencies that work to help sexual assault survivors.
"We certainly want to applaud all of the efforts like our child advocate that’s here in the county, our Job and Family Services that has outreach as well as a number of the churches and not-for-profits like the ADAMHS Board and the like, the Children’s First Council that really provide an outreach as well as educate," he says.
Molly McMath is the executive director of the Compass rape crisis center that provides education, outreach and support in Tuscarawas, Carroll and Stark counties. She says they applaud the commissioners for their effort to bring attention to this important issue.
“Sexual assault is a crime that affects everyone regardless of where you live, if you’re a man, a woman, what age you are, your social-economic standing. It’s just across the board, and it has such a ripple effect into our community, and so raising awareness within the community and rallying the community to take actions of prevention is a key to eliminating sexual violence," she says.
McMath says Compass offers a variety of services for anyone who has been affected by sexual violence.
"That could be a call to our 24-hour crisis hotline. I could be hospital advocacy during an exam. It could be counseling. We have support groups. We have case management. We also have a craft group for survivors just so that they can come together and have social interaction in a safe environment," she says.
McMath says all of those services are available at no cost to anyone in the community by calling Compass’ 24/7 local hotline at 330-339-1427. She says Compass also has events and activities planned throughout April in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"Throughout the community, you might see teal chairs sitting at businesses. We encourage you to read the signs that are on the chairs. Every Tuesday is 'Teal Tuesday' and so we’re asking that the community wear teal just as a way to support survivors, showing them that you’re there for them," she says.
McMath says Compass will also be hosting an awareness and safety event for families later this month featuring vendors, live animals and an Easter egg hunt. It will be on April 20th from 1 to 4 pm at Rivercrest Farm, located at 6612 Boy Scout Road NE in Dover.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV