Commissioners proclaim April Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Pictured, from left to right, are Greene County District Attorney David Russo; Commissioners Betsy McClure and Mike Belding; Joanna Dragan and Josh Parnell, representing the SPHS Care Center’s STTARS Program; and Commissioner Blair Zimmerman.

Greene County commissioners issued a proclamation during their April 22 meeting recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In the proclamation, commissioners addressed statistics indicating sexual harassment, abuse and assault are widespread problems.

According to the proclamation, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 67 men have been raped and 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.

“Sexual harassment, assault and abuse happen in all communities and includes online spaces,” the proclamation states. “Unfortunately, with this increase in virtual connection comes an increase in online abuse and harassment. Consent and boundaries can be violated online in a number of ways.”

The proclamation states “we all can make a difference to ensure that both the communities that we live in and the communities that we visit online are safe and respectful for everyone.”

With this year marking the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the commissioners said everyone is responsible for fostering this awareness.

“It is a time for all of us to take responsibility to create spaces that are built on the foundational values of consent, keeping children and other vulnerable populations safe, and believing and supporting survivors,” the proclamation states. “With leadership, dedication, and encouragement, there is evidence that we can be successful in preventing sexual violence in Greene County through increased education, awareness, and public involvement.”

In presenting the proclamation, the commissioners recognized the SPHS CARE Center Sexual Trauma Treatment and Recovery Services (STTARS) Program, which they said “strongly supports” the efforts of national, state, and local partners, and of every resident, to actively engage in efforts to prevent sexual violence.

“We join advocates and communities across the country in playing an active role to prevent sexual violence, “the proclamation states.

Joining the commissioners in the proclamation presentation were Joanna Dragan, SPHS CARE Center’s STTARS Program Supervisor and Outreach and Development Coordinator; Josh Parnell, counselor/advocate for the STTARS Program’s Greene County office and Greene County District Attorney David Russo.

The SPHS CARE Center STTARS program provides counseling, legal and medical advocacy and a 24-hour hotline to survivors of sexual violence and their significant others in Greene and Washington counties.

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