Tri-County Help Center strives to end victim blaming

T-L Photo/GAGE VOTA April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Tri-County Help Center is working to end the stigma surrounding the issue.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — April marks the 23rd annual Sexual Assault Awarness Month, and Tri-County Help Center is working to help victims and the community cope with the issue.

Center representatives were able to have proclamations read by Belmont, Harrison and Monroe county commissioners, declaring April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month locally.

And located in all three of the Tri-County Help Center’s offices as well as in the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce window are mannequins wearing survivors’ clothing with their story written by each survivor.

“We’re doing this to show that clothing is not an excuse for sexual assault and to end the victim blaming stigma that you see a lot of times in the community,” Tri-County Community Education Coordinator Megan Talkington said.

Wednesday was National Wear Denim Day. The observance started in 1999 due to the Italian Supreme Court overturning a rape conviction in which an 18-year-old student was assaulted by her 45-year-old driving instructor during a driving lesson in 1992.

The court ruled that because the 18-year-old was wearing tight jeans that consent must have been warranted. To show solidarity for the student, lawmakers wore jeans and protested on the steps of the Italian Supreme Court. Solidarity for the student quickly spread around the entire world, starting in Los Angeles California in 1999. Ever since, the last Wednesday of April has been National Wear Denim Day to express solidarity and spread awareness and education around sexual violence.

In hopes to carry on the tradition and to spread awareness, area residents donated jeans to Tri-County Help Center for people in need of clothing.

For the entire month of April, survivors in the support group of Tri-County Help Center are doing book recommendations at local libraries in all three counties it serves. The recommendations come from survivors and are books that helped them through their trauma.

This coming Saturday, Tri-County Help Center will be holding a dog walk at Sally Buffalo Park in Cadiz to raise awareness. The event will take place at 11 a.m. and will include food vendors.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, call Tri-County Help Center’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 740-695-5441.


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