April 15, 2002

Tompkins County Focuses on Sexual Assault Month

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Throughout the nation, April has been designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and there is no exception in Tompkins County, as the Local Center For Crime Victim and Sexual Assault Services (CVSA) sponsors a number of events concerning sexual assault which run during this month.

“[Sexual Assault Awareness Month] is important to raise awareness and help people receive assistance, because sexual assault is as important of an issue in Tompkins County as it is anywhere,” said Kate Chason, executive director of CVSA.

Nationally, one out of six women and one out of 33 men have reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape. These statistics indicate that about 8,300 adults in Tompkins County have experienced attempted or completed rape, according to a press release from CVSA.

The events throughout the month target participation from people in the community and students of Cornell and Ithaca College. The events are geared toward educating, promoting awareness, and raising money for the cause to promote prevention and to make people more comfortable with talking about the subject or to seek help if needed, according to Yvonne Ogonowki, victim service coordinator of CVSA.

“The more you talk about [sexual assault] the less frightened people will be to talk about it … [it’s a] way to honor survivors,” said Ogonowski.

Various Projects

There are lots of events held throughout the month such as the Green Ribbon Campaign, during which the organization hands out green ribbons to community members. They also have a bookmark campaign to educate the community about sexual assault and services that are available to survivors. “An Ounce of Prevention” Campaign helps raise funds for educating the community about sexual assault by asking local coffee shops to donate a percentage or dollar amount for each cup of coffee sold during a week in April.

The Clothesline Project, an exhibit of t-shirts reflecting feelings of survivors of sexual assault in Tompkins County, will take place at Cornell University on April 10, at Ithaca College on Wednesday, and on the Ithaca Commons on April 26.

Cornell is also involved in the annual Take Back the Night Rally, which will be held on April 26. The rally will give students and Ithaca residents a chance to unite, and speak out against sexual assault.

The event will involve various members of the Cornell community, such as members of sororities and fraternities.

“[Last year] a lot of the girls from various sororities came together to march,” said Rebecca Walker ’02, former president of Cornell’s Panhellenic Association. “Some of the girls knew people who had been victims, and some fraternity brothers who had had siblings who were victims [also participated]. [It was] a very moving experience for them to go down to the Commons to support one another and to share experiences.”

Education

Though Sexual Assault Awareness Month is sponsored by CVSA, it remains a collaborative effort of many organizations and businesses throughout Tompkins County that participate for the common cause of spreading awareness and educating the community about sexual assault.

“It’s the collaboration of all of the events that make the event effective. Events bring the people of Tompkins County together to acknowledge that sexual assault is a problem. [It is] a way to honor survivors,” said Ogonowki.


Archived article by Sun Staff