Mayor Kenny Billings signed a proclamation declaring Sexual Assault Awareness Month throughout April.
According to the Centers Against Abuse &?Sexual Assault (CAASA), the month is designed to call attention tot he fact tha tsexual violence is widespread and impacts every person in this community.
Statistics show one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
The theme of this year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month's campaign is "Engaging New Voices."?The campaign calls on new partners and community members to help expand sexual assault prevention efforts and ensure the next generation fosters attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality, and respect.
Billings said, "I join advicates and communities across the country in taking action to prevent sexual violence. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and each day of the year is an opportunity to create change for the future."?
Misty Wofff of CAASA announced Denim Day April 26 and a balloon release to take place at 5 p.m. that day. Outlet Store is a sponsor of the balloon release. Wolff said several groups and workplaces that have already signed up to be part of Denim Day on April 26, including Emmet County Courthouse, Avera Holy Family Hospital, Forest Ridge, Iowa Lakes Community College, the City of Estherville, Style Loft, A Cut Above, NorthStar Bank, Citizens Community Credit Union, Lakes Regional Health Care, and Employment Connections.
Raising her voice
Local woman tells story of pain and healing, hopes to inspire others
by Amy H. Peterson
Editor's note: A local woman, now in her late 20s, came in to our newspaper office to tell her story of recovery and healing from a sexual assault that happened in another north Iowa town a decade ago. Susie is a pseudonym she chose to keep her identity confidential.
Shortly after Susie began study in Human Services at Iowa Lakes Community College ten years ago, it happened.
Susie did report it. She did testify against her assailant, and, she says, he was sent to prison for a sentence of ten years.
"I avoided it," Susie said. "It was easier to act like it never happened."
"I have the greatest, most supportive family and friends," Susie said. "But they really just wanted to get to the part where I was all better. Where we all could put it behind us."
Keeping the fallout from being assaulted mostly buried for years, Susie simply didn't deal with it until a work assignment to the town where it happened brought up the memories and emotions, and finally, she sought counseling.
"My counselor said the ways I have acted could have been because of [the rape]," Susie said.
Susie described her symptoms and actions, which she has learned through counseling are unhealthy ways other survivors of sexual assault have dealt with their trauma.
"My self-worth is down. I feel like I'm damaged goods. I walk around with a smile on my face, thinking it's better that way," Susie said.
"It's something that's not talked about. You blame yourself, wondering what you could have done different."
This is the part Susie seeks to change. "I'm using my voice in my healing process, hoping other survivors will want to stop hiding and come out to heal, too," Susie said.
Denim Day Packets are still available from CAASA, Wolff said.