April has arrived, which means organizations and South King County cities, including Renton, are taking steps to recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The mission of the campaign is simple — increase public awareness and arm residents with practical ways to prevent sexual violence.
“People are more open to learning and being educating and taking action against sexual assault,” said Laurel Redden, marketing communications manager at KCSARC. “(The campaign) offers a simple action you can take each day, whether that is talking to your child about ways they can empower themselves or talking among your peers or friend group or family members about contest. There’s going to be a simple action people can take that if we all do this and sustain this effort, it can impact and end sexual violence.”
KCSARC, located in Renton, provides sexual assault-related services for people of all ages in the county and works to eliminate sexual violence and abuse. In 2017, the organization provided 4,100 individuals with direct services. It also provides legal advocacy, trauma-specific therapy and parent education. There is a 24-hour resource line that provides information crisis support and referrals. Last year, KCSARC counted 2,033 calls made to the resource line.
As part of the campaign, KCSARC is taking their message online and utilizing social media to share resources and tips once a day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Local stores are also showing their support for the organization this month.
Renton pub The Brewmaster’s Taproom, located 2000 Benson Rd S., will donate a portion of each pint sold to KCSARC from 4-8 p.m. April 27. Half of each sale at John Fluevog Shoes, 205 Pine St., Seattle, from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 18 will benefit KCSARC.
THE CONVERSATION GROW
According to Mary Ellen Stone, executive director, the conversation about sexual assault and abuse has been growing, especially after the #MeToo movement.
The movement gained steam in October 2017 online, following the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Women used the hashtag on social media to share personal stories of sexual assault and harassment. The campaign’s message comes at the right time, considering the social and political climate of the country, Stone said.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time. We’ve seen attitudes change dramatically,” said Stone. “#MeToo has been a galvanizing force, in part built off of the momentum we and other organizations around the country have been doing. It’s a combination of the foundation we’ve laid, coupled with the social media and very powerful and impactful individual women coming forward.”
“The whole key is this: Creating this atmosphere where people will feel they’ll be supported if they come forward,” said Redden. “That’s the underlying theory of all the change we’ve created, which is to be loud, to be heard and be believed.”
Stone said she’s seen a difference over the years in how cities have responded to the issue. This year, nearly 30 cities issued proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including Renton, Covington, Maple Valley, Kent, Auburn, and Tukwila.
Stone accepted the proclamation at the April 2 Renton City Council meeting.
“Thank you for standing with us and thanking you for being loud,” Stone said, addressing council members and Mayor Denis Law. “We know we can’t stop sexual assault unless we keep talking about it.”
To learn more about campaign, go to www.kcsarc.org/2018-sexual-assault-awareness-month, or see their social media platforms.