Harrison recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Harrison County Commissioner Paul Coffland reads a proclamation reccognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month at Wednesday’s meeting in Cadiz.

CADIZ — Harrison County proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in an effort to spread awareness and urge conty residents to do the same.

In the past, members of the Tri-County Help Center have attended a Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting to request commissioners’ signatures on the proclamation. However, due to concerns pertaining to the coronavirus, the members of the organization were unable to attend this year’s reading. In an effort to prevent further spread of the virus and to protect courthouse employees and local residents, the commissioners’ recent meetings have been closed to the public, except for the press.

Commissioner Paul Coffland read the Tri-County Help Center’s proclamation during Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“The Harrison County Commissioners are pleased to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 2020. … Sexual assault affects women, men and children of all social, racial, religious, ethinic, socioeconomic and age groups. Taking many forms, sexual violence can include incest, child abuse, commercial sex trafficking, sexual harrassment, stalking and acquanintance, stranger, spousal and gang rape and over 80 percent of these crimes are committed by indivduals known to the vicim,” he read.

Sexual Assualt Awareness Month calls attention to the fact that rape, sexual assualt and sexual harrassment impacts the entire community, he said. In addition to the immediate physical and emotional tolls of sexual assualt, the victims can suffer adverse consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, major depression, homelessness, eating disorders and suicide, the resolution states.

“Every 73 seconds in America someone is sexually assaulted, and every nine minutes that victim is a child,” Coffland read.

According to the help center, one in six boys and one in four girls will experience a sexual assault before the age of 18. That is why child sexual abuse prevention is imperative and must be a priority, it says. Additionally, on school campuses, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their time in college.

“Statistic show one in five women and one in 67 men will be raped at some point in their lives; and one in three women and one in six men will experience some form of sexual assault over (their) lifetime,” he read.

The help center provides services to victims of sexual assault including a 24-hour hotline, hospital accompaniment, court advocacy, counseling and emergency shelter. In 2019, the help center responded to 114 hotline calls for victims of sexual assault, provided legal advocacy for 37 victims and provided rape crisis advocacy for 17 victims and their families in the tri-county area.

Coffland made a motion to accept the reslotion, recognizing April 2020 as Sexual Assault Awarenss Month; commissioner Don Bethel secodned the motion. Commissioner Dale Norris concurred, and it was unanimously adopted.

In other news, commissioners signed an agreement with the County Risk Sharing Authority Inc., the county’s insurance provider. Coffland said the purpose of the agreement is to provide a joint self-insurance pool to assist members to prevent and reduce losses and injuries to the county’s property and persons.

The cost for the year is $142,595.

“The initial cost was $158,337,” he said. “With some of the things, including some meetings that Commissioner Bethel and our agent attend, we get some reductions.”

The agreement is effective from May 2020 until April 2021. Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement.


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