Embrace billboard

A billboard promoting the local organizations Embrace for survivors of sexual assault can be seen from the southbound lanes of Hwy. 53, a mile north of Hwy. 70 between Bittersweet and Ojibwe roads. The billboard is on the left, atop the hill.

Sexual assault is a serious and widespread problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly one in five women and one in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape, often before the age of 10. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and while we know that one month is not enough to solve the widespread issue of sexual violence, it is a time to increase public awareness and educate communities about how to prevent and respond to sexual assault. Everyone can support survivors and promote social norms that protect against violence.

According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, every 73 seconds another American is sexually assaulted. Sexual violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. When a person does come forward with their assault story, they’re often bombarded with questions about what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, why they didn’t fight back, and why they put themselves in the position to be harmed. Asking these kinds of questions reinforces the idea that people are to blame when they are attacked and gives perpetrators an excuse to not take responsibility.

Mary’s Bluegill Bar in Birchwood is taking a stand against these victim-blaming behaviors and putting an end to sexual violence by participating in the Cheers to Consent Coaster Campaign. The campaign consists of custom-made coasters featuring messages to end victim blaming, education for staff on bystander intervention, and posters making patrons aware of options to get help if they are uncomfortable.

Want to participate in a live event for SAAM? Join us on Wednesday, April 7, at 6 p.m. for a virtual screening of the film “Indian Horse,” followed by a panel discussion. An adaptation of Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, “Indian Horse,” this moving and important drama sheds light on the dark history of Indigenous boarding schools. Join Tracking Our Truth partners after the film for a panel discussion on historical trauma and the lasting impacts on Native survivors, as well as discussion on the new, non-hospital based, advocacy driven medical forensic care (SANE) available in Northern Wisconsin through the Tracking Our Truth Project. Panelists include University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing, HIR Wellness Institute, Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, and St. Croix Valley SART. Discussion will be facilitated by Embrace.

This event is free, but registration is required. To register: angela@embracewi.org by April 5.

Looking for other ways to get involved? Show your support for survivors by wearing teal, the official color of sexual assault awareness month, on April 6. Share a selfie on social media and tag Embrace. You can also take the pledge to start by believing when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted. Join the over 9,000 people who have already taken the pledge at startbybelieving.org. Finally, wear denim on April 28 to show solidarity with survivors and send a message that clothing is not consent. Tag Embrace on your social media post and use the hashtag #DenimDay.

Follow Embrace on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about these events and how you can make a difference this Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or sexual assault, you are not alone! It is not your fault. Embrace is here to help. Contact Embrace for free, confidential advocacy and support at 800.924.0556 or text at 715.532.6976.

Embrace is an advocacy services provider for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in four-county service area of Northwestern Wisconsin.

At Embrace, we provide unwavering support to survivors. Through education and awareness, we engage our communities and create multi-disciplinary partnerships to increase safety and equity advancing our mission of ending gender-based violence. We strive to create a courageous social change that will end all forms of oppression in our communities. Everyone deserves healthy communities and the support to thrive.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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