April is the 21st anniversary of the pronouncement of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). While the first official declaration of this month was in 2001, by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the Union County Board of County Commissioners have been a strong advocate of awareness and prevention for decades, most particularly with the opening of the Rape Crisis Center in 1984.
“Sexual assault is an unfortunate reality that many are afraid to speak out about – it is often kept behind closed doors, where victims suffer in silence,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “This month is an opportunity to build your knowledge, access resources, and share your ideas with us. It is through these awareness months where we can hopefully inspire others to speak out and I would like to encourage everyone to use this opportunity to consider how they can be part of the solution.”
The Union County Rape Crisis Center (UCRCC) is a program under the Division of Individual & Family Support Services in the Union County Department of Human Services. It is largely staffed by volunteers, who offer support and advocacy to help victims navigate the medical, legal and emotional aftermath. The volunteers are very well trained and fully prepared to respond to victims over the phone on a 24-hour hotline, or in person as advocates who accompany victims to hospital emergency rooms, police interviews, and courts.
“Both women and men who are dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault can encounter obstacles, many may not want to speak out or have a lack of support within their family or friends,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, liaison to the Human Services Advisory Board. “Under complete discretion and privacy to the clients and themselves, our volunteers help victims overcome these barriers, reclaim their lives and be an advocate who can accompany them to hospitals, police stations and courts. The Union County Board of Commissioners encourage anyone in need of these services to reach out for help.”
Each year Union County hosts Denim Day, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and on Wednesday, April 27th, Union County invites everyone to join the Union County Rape Crisis Center and other Union County allies in wearing denim to raise awareness about sexual assault and to show support for survivors of sexual violence.
To join the movement, participants can snap a group photo of you and your friends/co-workers wearing denim and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for a feature on: the County website, the County’s social media platforms and the Rape Crisis Center Blog.
To learn more about the programs and services offered by the Union County Rape Crisis Center, please call 908-233-7273.