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Local mayors declare April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for Henderson/Chester Co.

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April 1 launched Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In the United States, an estimated 25.5 million women and 2.8 million men report rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is intended to draw attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and has public health implications for every member of the City of Henderson and County of Chester.
Henderson Mayor Bobby King and Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson signed a proclamation declaring April 2021 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Henderson and Chester County with local WRAP (Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program) representatives.
Excerpts of the proclamation say “Henderson and Chester County share a critical concern for victims of sexual violence and a desire to support their needs for justice and healing.”
“In 2020, more than 500 reports of rape and/or sexual assault were made to law enforcement in West Tennessee (excluding Shelby County); 256 West Tennessee victims of sexual assault were served by WRAP, and Jackson-Madison County General Hospital SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program) performed 133 forensic exams.”
“Current estimates suggests no more than 20 percent of sexual assaults will be reported to law enforcement, and less than three percent will result in the conviction and incarceration of the perpetrator.”
“The City of Henderson and County of Chester strongly support the efforts of the national, state and local partners, and every citizen to actively engage in public and private efforts, including conversations about what sexual violence is, how to prevent it, how to help survivors connect with services and how every segment of our society can work together to better address sexual violence based in an attitude of belief.”
WRAP directly serves those impacted by sexual violence across 19 counties in West Tennessee, offering a wide array of trauma-informed and evidence-based services that are free and confidential. We also work closely within the communities we serve to bring awareness of sexual violence in an effort to further promote healthy and stable communities, families, and relationships.
April is the time for our communities to come together and honor the incredible strength and courage of survivors, while highlighting the resilience of our communities. With the appropriate resources and support, survivors of sexual violence can more easily overcome intense trauma, find healing, and achieve restoration. With increased and diligent awareness by each of us, we can finally disperse longstanding myths and stigmas surrounding survivors of sexual violence.
WRAP will be participating in the “Start by Believing” campaign throughout the month of April. This campaign focuses on ending the cycle of silence and changing the way we respond to sexual assault. It is important for us to “Start by Believing” when a friend or family member discloses to us that they have been a victim of sexual violence. To help build support within our communities, you can join WRAP and the “Start by Believing” campaign by making a personal pledge. Please, contact WRAP at 731-668-0411, to connect with your county advocate, who can explain more about Start By Believing, provide pledges for you and any other members of the community to sign, and inform you of any upcoming events.
WRAP will also be collaborating with different colleges and universities to build campus awareness of sexual violence through different outreach activities, promoting social media events, debuting weekly “Safe Space” Facebook Live discussions, and lots of other opportunities to build collaborations with community members. Please remember to check our Facebook page for event updates, and feel free to share our posts or create your own with the tag #WestTNBelieves.
This April and throughout the year, let us support survivors, wrapping them in hope, and sending a clear message that they are not in this alone. Together we can make West Tennessee a safe place to live, and it all starts by believing.
If you or anyone you know has questions about sexual violence please call our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-273-8712.

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The Chester County Independent is a weekly newspaper, published on Thursdays, serving Chester County, Tennessee.

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