Freeholder Jim Jefferson presented a proclamation at Rowan University’s annual Take Back the Night event on April 2 to recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Take Back the Night is an international initiative against sexual assault and domestic violence that hosts events where the community has the opportunity to come together to support survivors and remember the victims of abuse and assault.
Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger said, “according to data from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, every year, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college. By raising awareness about the occurrence of sexual assault on campuses and highlighting many of the recourses provided to victims, we can help those who have been affected feel safe in speaking up and feel assured that their college has services in place to help them.”
The proclamation was presented to Gina Ridge of Center for Family Services, Services Empowering Rights of Victims program. SERV provides support to hundreds of survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, and human trafficking each year. SERV advocates attended and supported the Rowan University student body by presenting during the event, answering questions and providing resources throughout the night.
Jefferson, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services said, “Programs such as SERV make it possible for workplaces and schools to promote a safe environment and an environment where people feel they can speak up if something happens.”
SERV is also promoting Denim Day throughout April to assist victims get the help they need. By pledging $5 and wearing denim on Fridays in April, members of the community can make it easier for victims of violence to access crisis intervention services including a 24/7 hotline, counseling, safe housing, and advocate accompaniments to hospitals, police stations, and the court.
“Take Back the Night and Denim Day are ways to show victims that we stand by them and support them. By creating an environment of understanding and erasing any misconceptions that may be prevalent in our society concerning sexual assault, we create an environment where speaking up is not something to be afraid of doing,” Jefferson said.