Partnership for Families, Children and Adults and other community leaders are recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month to increase awareness about sexual violence, encourage individuals to prevent sexual violence and inform the community of available resources for survivors.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month kicks off on April 4 with a Day Of Action. Partnership encourages the community to join them on the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Day of Action by wearing teal, the color of sexual violence prevention, in support of survivors.
Community members can share their support on social media by posting a photo featuring their teal outfit or ribbon, tagging Partnership’s social media accounts and using the hashtag #SAAM2023.
On the morning of April 6, Partnership and the Children’s Advocacy Center welcome the public to attend a proclamation ceremony at the Courts Building declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Presented by Mayor Tim Kelly of the City of Chattanooga and Special Advisor David Roddy of the Hamilton County Mayor’s Office, the proclamation will reaffirm the city and county’s commitment to support survivors, as well as encourage the public to engage in awareness efforts.
The ceremony will also recognize community partners whose work supports survivors, including local law enforcement, the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office and other survivor-serving organizations. UTC Chief of Police Robert Ratchford and General Sessions Judge Christie Sell are slated to attend among other community leaders and partners.
Officials said, "In the United States, every 68 seconds someone is sexually assaulted, and every nine minutes, the victim is a child. In 2020 in Tennessee, there were more than 5,000 instances of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies according to the TN Department of Health. However, it is estimated only one out of every three sexual assaults are reported to police according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network website.
"Partnership provides critical resources for sexual assault survivors through its Rape Crisis Center. Accessible to local survivors 24/7, the Rape Crisis Center is the community’s only comprehensive service provider offering a full range of medical, emotional and procedural services to victims of sexual assault age 13 and older in a safe, trauma-informed environment."
Rape Crisis Center services include forensic medical exams performed by trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), trauma-informed counseling, court advocacy and other supportive services.
Partnership also provides the community’s 24/7 Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline. Local survivors or potential victims of sexual assault can contact the confidential hotline to receive immediate support, create safety plans and discuss available resources.
“Last fiscal year, we received and responded to 2,229 crisis hotline calls and safely performed 124 forensic medical exams at the Rape Crisis Center, a respective increase of 48% and 24% from the year prior,” said Partnership CEO Kevin Hyde. “This increase is a poignant reminder that the need for sexual assault services among our community is great, and that we must continue working together to holistically support survivors this April and year-round.”
Throughout April, the public can also support Partnership and the survivors it serves by making a donation at partnershipfca.com/donate or dining at a partnered give-back restaurant. A portion of proceeds will benefit Partnership from Dos Bros of East Ridge on April 19, Honey Seed of Chattanooga on April 25 and Lil Mama's Chicago Style Hoagy of Chattanooga on April 27.
Additional Sexual Assault Awareness Month event details and information will be available on April 1 at partnershipfca.com/SAAM2023.
Any individual currently or at risk of experiencing sexual assault is encouraged to contact Partnership’s 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 423-755-2700 for confidential support. To report sexual abuse against children, call the Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline at 877-237-0004.