Frankfort Declares April As Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The City of Frankfort and local organizations declare April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
– Photo courtesy of The United Way for Clinton County

Today, April 1, Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Clinton County alongside partners at the YWCA Greater Lafayette organization.

Sheets declared April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month once again this year as a reminder of the importance of solidarity, support and action in ending sexual violence and as a motivator for the community to work together to create a safer and more compassionate community.

The YWCA also announced that April 24 will mark Denim Day where all community members are encouraged to wear denim in support for sexual assault survivors.

The two organizations worked together in previous years to declare Domestic Violence Awareness Month among others.

Report from 2023 regarding Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation in Frankfort in collaboration with Heartford House representatives by Ken Hartman:

Sexual assault awareness is becoming a huge problem in every community.

Early last month, Zonta members welcomed staff of the YWCA Greater Lafayette to learn more about the work of the Sexual Assault Advocate office in Clinton County.

Then at noon on Friday, Frankfort Mayor and Zontian member Judy Sheets, along with YWCA and other local advocates, joined on the Clinton County Courthouse lawn as she proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month here in Frankfort.

“As I said in my proclamation, it takes all of us working together,” said Sheets. “There are many organizations. There’s churches. There’s all sorts of people in the community that are involved in this. I think it’s important that we keep in mind that these things are still happening. But, we are doing what we can do to prevent those.”

Sheets was one of three speakers at the event. The others were Ashley Carter, Assistant Director for the Heartford House Child Advocacy Center in Lafayette and Bree Palmer, who is a local advocate.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), sexual assault continues to represent the most rapidly growing violent crime in America, claiming a victim every 45 seconds. Because many of these attacks occurring daily go unreported and unrecognized, sexual assault can be considered a “silent-violent epidemic” in the United States today.

Stewart said they are working as hard as they can to see this problem go away.

“The prevention that we are trying to do, I would like to see the numbers of child abuse and neglect go down,” said Carter. “We’d like to see our numbers of cases just go away.

“I would really like to see the number of cases go down and the number of families that participate with us go up,” she continued. “This day is about trying to prevent those cases from happening.”

Carter said the number of their cases are going down — from over 800 in 2021 to 740 in 2022.

Sheets says she is happy with the way things are going in Frankfort.

“I see all organizations working together and I think it really has been successful in our community,” said Sheets. “I want it to keep moving forward in the same way.”

Following the speakers, the guests which gathered were all given blue pinwheels, who then planted them on the west side of the courthouse. The pinwheels are a symbol for the group,

Report from 2022 regarding Sexual Assault Awareness Month proclamation in Frankfort in collaboration with an IU Health representative by Carl Gingerich:

City of Frankfort Mayor, Judy Sheets, proclaimed on Monday at the Board of Works meeting that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

Sheets expressed that the month is intended to raise awareness of sexual assault cases as well as encourage the community to engage in educational opportunities to prevent the cases in the future.

IU Health forensic nurse Megan Shupe attended the meeting to deliver a speech regarding the resources available within the community for survivors. Shupe and four other nurses formed a regional team to respond to cases throughout the region, including Frankfort. Shupe described the team as highly specialized, and the members provide services for sexual assault survivors, child abuse survivors, those involved in drunk driving accidents and other cases that meet at the intersectionality of the legal system and healthcare. Shupe expressed that the team allows for cases to be prosecuted in a more fair and efficient manner due to their expertise.

“We really just like the opportunity to be there for a vulnerable population and to spread awareness around topics that we just don’t typically talk about in our day-to-day lives,” said Shupe.

Shupe highlighted a specific day that is intended to raise awareness for sexual assault survivors. The special day is the last Wednesday of April and is deemed Denim Day. The inspiration for the day came from a jury trial where a judge overturned the verdict because the survivor was wearing blue jeans during the incident.

“The judge decided that anybody wearing blue jeans couldn’t possibly have been raped because she must have helped remove those blue jeans,” said Shupe. “That’s how Denim Day was born. Once a year on Denim Day in April, everybody wears denim to show support for victims of sexual assault.”

The special day led into Sheets’ proclamation, where she stated that the entire month of April is intended to call further attention to ways to prevent sexual assault and highlight the history of where entities have responded inadequately.

“Sexual Assault Awareness Month calls attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and impacts every person in this community, and whereas rape, sexual assault and sexual harrassment affect every community, the national statistics show that one in three women and one in six men have been victims of sexual violence in their lifetime,” said Sheets. “Whereas, the goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent, overcome and heal while encouraging and empowering everyone.”

Sheets’ proclamation stated that no matter the scenario, all parties should ask for consent, listen and accept answering without pressuring or coercing the other party. Sheets further commented that the month highlights how to speak out against harmful attitudes and actions.

“With leadership, dedication and encouragement, we can be successful in preventing sexual violence in Frankfort, Indiana, through increased education, awareness and community involvement,” said Sheets. “Let us be advocates and join communities across the country in taking action to prevent sexual violence.

The City of Frankfort and IU Health have worked together to raise awareness of sexual assault prevention and provide services for those affected by sexual assault in any capacity, which Shupe expressed was a needed resource in the community.

“We’re super excited that we’re now able to do these cases here in Frankfort. A year ago, patients had to travel long distances to get that kind of care. Now, the nurse responds to them,” said Shupe.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month ends April 30, but officials and healthcare workers urged the community to continue spreading awareness throughout the year and continue its education.