Daily Reporter Staff Writer
GREENFIELD — One in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will experience some sort of sexual violence in their lives.
And Hancock County isn’t exempt from that statistic, local officials say.
April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month, and local organizations and businesses are working to raise awareness in hopes of preventing local residents from becoming part of that statistic.
This month, law enforcement officers are sporting shirts to support the “No More” campaign, a nationwide effort to stop domestic violence and sexual assault.
And some Hancock County businesses are displaying posters with statistics about domestic violence and sexual abuse.
It’s all part of an effort to spread awareness in the county about these types of violence, which are prevalent everywhere, said Kelly Buzan, outreach advocate for Alternatives Inc., a Madison County-based organization that provides shelter and resources to victims of family violence.
Based at the Greenfield Police Department, Buzan works to extend Alternatives’ services to Hancock County residents.
This month’s awareness campaign serves as a prelude to the launch of a new area organization with which Buzan is involved, the Hancock County Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
A celebration kickoff, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday at the Greenfield branch of Hancock County Public Library.
The coalition’s goal is to bring together stakeholders in the community to eradicate domestic and sexual violence by implementing a coordinated community response to the issue.
It’s important to raise awareness about family violence because it can impact all aspects of a victim’s life, Buzan said.
“People are affected by sexual violence in so many ways,” she said. “Together, we can end domestic violence and sexual assault. We can do that.”
This type of violence is often swept under the rug, Buzan said. People don’t like to talk about it because it’s an uncomfortable subject, and they don’t want to accept it happens everywhere, even in Hancock County, she added.
Greenfield Police Chief John Jester often deals with domestic violence firsthand.
He was happy to have some of his officers wear “No More” T-shirts because they represent an issue officers confront daily.
“If it brings awareness, then it’s worth it,” he said.
Sgt. Bridget Foy, a domestic violence prevention instructor at Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, said law enforcement is working to be more proactive when it comes to dealing with family violence. Spreading awareness by wearing T-shirts is one way to do that, she said.
“It shows our support in protecting victims,” she said. “What better way, in my opinion?”
Alternatives Inc. has been working with community officials for several months to form the new coalition.
Mimi McKee, a Hancock County resident who serves on the Alternatives Inc. board, said she’s looking forward to the kickoff event because it will give legs to an effort that’s been nearly a year in the making.
“We started this a year ago, and I had no idea what it would be like,” she said. “If you ask me, it’s already a success because we’re bringing everyone together.”
She said she hopes the coalition and awareness campaign will spark communitywide conversation about domestic violence and sexual assault, which could lead to funding and support to provide assistance and services to victims.
“It seems the stars have aligned,” she said. “I’m pleased already with what it looks like.”
Some Hancock County businesses are displaying signs this month with statistics about domestic violence and sexual abuse. It’s part of an effort to spread awareness about family violence.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience violence from their significant others in their lifetimes.
- 1 in 3 teens experiences sexual or physical abuse or threats from their significant others each year.
- 1 in 5 women has been raped.
- 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual violence.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused as youths.
The Hancock County Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is having its kickoff event, which is open to the public.
What: The event is the official introduction of the coalition, which aims to eradicate domestic and sexual violence by spreading awareness and leading a coordinated community response to the issue.
When: 3:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Greenfield branch of the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road