Breaking Tradition with “The Way Things Are”

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IT’S INTERESTING THAT WE, as a society, talk about hate crimes
in this country when it comes to race and sexual orientation,
but neglect to address the epidemic of hate crimes
based on gender alone. Violence against women continues
to reach new heights every day (1.3 women over 18 are
forcibly raped each minute), yet our communities and even
our government treat it as “just the way things are.”
As a Prevention Educator for Rape Crisis Services (RCS),
I am still barred from many middle and high schools that
won’t allow me to come to their schools to speak with
youth about harassment, violence and assault. This, despite
the fact that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually
assaulted before the age of 18. The government is also
complicit in the silence, having cut funding for the Violence
Against Women Act and Victims of Crime Act. As a
result, our program, like many other social services, is
looking at possible staff cuts soon. At RCS, we firmly
believe it is time to stop the violence against women and to
make a commitment to ending such violence a priority.
Our mission at RCS is to deconstruct rape myths and
empower sexual assault victims and survivors through our
various services. All services at RCS are free and confidential
and include: a 24-hour crisis hotline on which
anonymity is an option; counseling for survivors and their
supportive loved ones; medical advocacy that allows for a
staff/volunteer to meet with rape survivors at the hospital
to explain their rights with respect to the medical process;
legal advocacy by which we can serve as a liaison between
the person and other law enforcement agencies; community
education; and professional training for service
providers on topics like sexual harassment and child abuse
indicators. Services are available to men and women, ages
13 and up who are residents of Ford, Champaign, Douglas
and Piatt counties.
Because sexual assault is the least reported crime and
few victims ever reach out for help, The Rape Crisis Services
staff spend a large amount of energy on creating
awareness and providing education about violence against
women. We ask the community to join us in this commitment,
so that together we can work toward ending violence
against women!

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