April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; SAVES plans month full of activities

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In April, all across the United States, voices will raise against sexual violence during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The theme for 2009, “Respect Works!,” focuses on ending sexual violence in the workplace.

SAVES (Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services), Franklin County’s sexual assault crisis response center, has planned a full range of activities to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout the month of April, SAVES invites the community to support reducing violence and creating safer spaces in Franklin County. To do this, SAVES is encouraging participation in the Paper Clothesline Project by inviting businesses and schools to display paper t-shirts adorned with a message against violence.

“The t-shirt symbol ties in with the Clothesline Project, which began in 1990 as a way for victims and survivors to design a t-shirt to express their experiences with violence and recovery,” explains SAVES’ Executive Director Judy Rawlings.

“We hope to extend to our community the ability to design for itself what its safer space might look like,” Rawlings said. “And to say to anyone who has experienced sexual violence: ‘We are sorry that this happened to you and we want to help ensure it doesn’t happen anymore.'”

In conjunction with UMF’s campus group, the Farmington Christian Fellowship, SAVES will host a panel called Debunking Myths Around Sexual Violence: An Interfaith Perspective on Thursday, April 9 at 7 PM at UMF’s Student Center in room CR-123 The panel will address common misconceptions about sexual violence. Material discussed will range from the passages in the Bible to the words of everyday conversations.

SAVES will also participate in the Peace in Our Families’ 12th Annual March for Violence-Free Communities on Saturday, April 11, 2009. The event will begin with a march through downtown Farmington and end with a program and speak-out. The keynote address will be given by Tina Panayides, a Maine lawyer who has worked to address issues of sexual violence in her work. In addition there will be an awards ceremony recognizing individuals who have shown exceptional dedication to reducing and preventing violence in the homes of Franklin County in the last year. Everyone is invited to participate in the March for Violence-Free Communities.

To learn more about SAVES or to get involved, contact SAVES at 778-9522 or visit SAVES’ website at www.savesrapecrisis.org. If you would like information or support related to any type of sexual violence, please call our 24-hour confidential helpline at 1-800-871-7741. If you are a cell phone user in Franklin County, you may call 1-866-740-9516. TTY is available for the Deaf and hard of hearing at 1-800-458-5599.

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