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Embracing Your Voice and Reaching All Victims – Two Points of Focus Throughout the Month of April in Indy

By: Ashley Powell, Americorps Public Ally, DVN

April is here, which means it is officially Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). It’s also National Crime Victims Rights Week (NCVRW), April 8 – 14. This year was officially a first for me, as I joined Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault in the annual Teal Out the Canal event, in honor of SAAM. This experience was a truly exciting and humbling one. While this is an issue that has always remained very close to my heart, this is this first year that I have been able to really get involved in efforts within the community to address it.

The theme for SAAM is “Embrace Your Voice,”  one I believe to be very fitting and timely. With #metoo, #timesup, and #metooK12, we have witnessed many victims and survivors courageously coming forward with their experiences. Complacency and victim blaming has silenced too many for far too long. These conversations are so important to have, and simply listening to someone can do so much. When I train individuals out in the community, there is always one particular point that I hope everyone takes away from my presentation. When someone tells you that they have been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, BELIEVE THEM. It is incredibly powerful to have your voice heard.

The theme for National Crime Victims Rights Week is also fitting: “Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims.” It is so important that ALL victims have access to the services and resources they need. One of my favorite things about being a part of Domestic Violence Network is the emphasis on Network. One organization alone does not provide all the necessary services that a victim may need to access, but together we have a whole network that we can link them to, in order to access the care they need. This is such a powerful service to be able to provide for our community.

With both of these campaigns on my mind, I had many emotions swirling around in my brain as I watched the canal turn teal this past weekend. I felt humbled to see a community rallying around sexual assault awareness, and also seeing all of the wonderful Indianapolis organizations standing out in the cold with me to talk to community members about the services right here in the city. I felt angry, knowing that one out of every six American women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Yet, I also felt hopeful. This year I have seen so many brave individuals embrace their voice, and I have witnessed so many powerful conversations. Change is possible, and I am excited to experience it and be a part of it.

Check out all of the events happening in Indy for NCVRW!

  • Crime Victims’ Rights Awareness Event, Wednesday, April 11, 4:30 – 7 p.m., MLK Center, 40 W. 40th St., Indianapolis
  • Rocc-a-Thon, Thursday, April 12, 10am – 2pm, Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indianapolis
  • Expand the Mat, Thursday, April 12, 6:45 – 8 p.m., Indianapolis Public Library – Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St.

 

***Statistics from RAINN.org