CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Mayor Mason Strouse of Clearfield Borough announced that the month of April will officially be known as sexual assault awareness month.

After a meeting with Alaina Shaffer of PASSAGES, Inc., and Mary Tatum of the Child Advocacy Center of Clearfield County (CAC-CC), Strouse determined the month of April will be dedicated to recognizing victims and survivors of sexual assault. It will also draw attention to the prevalence of sexual assault and educate individuals in the community on how to prevent it.

“Sexual assault is a major issue facing children of all ages,” Tatum said.

In 2021, Tatum said the CAC conducted 191 child abuse forensic interviews. In 2022, the CAC has already reached 71 child abuse forensic interviews.

“Child sexual abuse is the most prevalent health concern with the most serious consequences facing children and adolescents, with 1 in 10 children disclosing being sexually abused before their 18th birthday,” Tatum said. “However, this statistic is higher because many cases are unreported.”

Shaffer added that every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Additionally, she said 1 in 6 American women have experienced completed attempted rape in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. About 3 percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

“Survivors of sexual violence are never at fault, and you are not alone,” Shaffer said.

Leaders at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) are reaching out to local leaders to take action, according to a media release from the Clearfield Borough Office of the Mayor. Their current campaign focuses on sexual violence online.

“It is important for those who are victims of sexual violence to hear from their elected officials
that we believe you, we support you, and we love you,” Strouse said. “Sexual violence is unacceptable and is, unfortunately, plaguing our community. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, and in many cases, we, unfortunately, know of a sexually violent person. We can all play a role in ending sexual violence by educating ourselves about the consequences of sexual violence and reporting sexual violence if we know about it or experience it ourselves.”

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If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, you’re asked to reach out to resources such as PASSAGES, Inc., at 1-800-793-3620 or the CAC-CC at 814-768-3155. To report child abuse, call Childline at 1-800-932-0313.

To learn more about what you can do to help end sexual violence, visit TheMamaBearEffect.org or contact PASSAGES, Inc., or the CAC.