WORDS CAN BRING HEALING AND HOPE

Fort Bend Women’s Center launches 2017 Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month 

Words can help prevent sexual assault and support survivors – that’s the message from Fort Bend Women’s Center as it marks this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month.

Fort Bend Women’s Center, which has a 24-hour crisis hotline and support services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, is focusing this year on changing the conversation about sexual assault. Throughout the month of April, Fort Bend Women’s Center will be offering practical information on how everyone can contribute to preventing sexual assault and support survivors.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month campaign, Fort Bend Women’s Center Chief Executive Officer, Vita Goodell said: “Sexual assault is still a very taboo subject in our community. This makes it even more difficult for survivors to talk about what has happened to them and to ask for help, in fear they will be not be believed and actually might be blamed for what has happened to them.”

“With open and informed conversations, we can stand with the survivors in our community and support them. The more candid discussions become about issues such as consent, inappropriate sexual conduct and harassment, the more we can help change the culture and behavior that contributes to sexual assault.”

The Women’s Center is specifically calling on men in the Fort Bend community to come forward and show their support for sexual assault survivors and to contribute to changing the conversation.

According to Goodell: “We have all have a responsibility to prevent sexual assault, and it is important for our male community leaders and role models to stand with our survivors and to make it clear that there is never any excuse or reason for sexual violence. Something as simple as a selfie on social media can be a great public statement and a wonderful conversation starter.”

In addition to providing online resources, members of Fort Bend Women’s Center Sexual Assault program team will be available for advice and information in Fort Bend Women’s Center PennyWise Resale stores on Wednesdays in April and at the Classic Chevrolet Chili-Cook Off on April 8th.

Fort Bend Women’s Center is also calling on individuals and organizations to wear jeans on April 26th for Denim Day, an event inspired by an Italian court case where a rape conviction was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans.

Goodell explains: “It can be very easy to feel powerless to prevent sexual assault or to help survivors, but sometimes something as simple as wearing your jeans to work can send a powerful message of hope, acknowledging survivors and standing with them. It can also open up conversations about issues such as consent and the fact that there is never any excuse for sexual assault.”

“Standing together, as a community, we can start to bring healing and hope to survivors of sexual assault.”

Texas Department of Public Safety’s Uniform Crime Report (2015) shows that there 18,636 incidents of sexual assault in Texas, including 226 in Fort Bend County. According to the National Institute of Justice, only about a quarter of all sexual assaults are reported.

For more information on Fort Bend Women’s Center’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, visit www.fbwc.org. If you have been affected by sexual assault, you can call the Women’s Center 24-hour Crisis Hotline on 281-342-4357

ENDS

For more information or to request an interview with Vita Goodell, please contact Leslie Wendland or Sarah Black, Fort Bend Women’s Center on 281-344-5750.