April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Recently, Jodi Brummette, the Van Wert County YWCA Court Advocate for Wright State University Lake Campus, held a RAINN Day event on the campus to promote sexual assault awareness. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“It’s a national campaign that’s done on campuses all over the United States,” said Brummette. “We set up a table and we always have an umbrella which we encourage kids to sign and talk about sexual assault awareness.”

Brummette also hands out flyers and resources regarding sexual assault. Brummette’s work as a sexual assault advocate at the Wright State University Lake Campus is a relatively new service that previously the campus hadn’t offered.

If a student is a victim of sexual assault, they are able to reach out to Brummette or other staff who connect the student and Brummette. Brummette then provides the victim with whatever it is they may need.

“Usually I reach out and it’s always their choice what they want to do,” she said, noting that her services are usually individualized.

Brummette often offers emotional support, validation, and provides resources that are able to further help the students.

Jamie Evans, YWCA Housing Director, said that the process is also individualized for local victims.

“If we get a call on our hotline from the hospital then our advocates respond immediately,” said Evans who noted that sometimes the advocate will show up and the victim is alone and without a support person. “The advocate becomes that support person and sits through that. Basically, as simple as it sounds, they hold their hand through the whole process so that they have someone to be there with them.”

No matter the situation, when an advocate arrives at the hospital, they provide them with information regarding services that are available to them. The YWCA advocates also cover Paulding County Hospital now, and all of their services are free.

While Evans said advocates only responded to four to five sexual assaults last year, that does not mean there were only four to five sexual assaults that happened in 2018 in Van Wert County.

“I think when you live in a small community it’s harder to speak out and seek help,” said Evans.

Nationally, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and 1 out of 10 rape victims are male. According to RAINN, every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted with people aged 18-34 having the highest risk of sexual violence.

In order to bring awareness to sexual assault, the YWCA will hold a Denim Day on April 24. Denim Day was triggered by a ruling in the Italian Supreme Court when a rape conviction was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans. The judged ruled that because her jeans were so tight, she must have helped the rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.

The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing denim in solidarity with the victim.

The YWCA is encouraging people and businesses to participate in Denim Day in two ways, either by wearing jeans on April 24 or by painting a pair of jeans with a message bringing awareness to sexual assault and hanging them outside your business or at the YWCA where a clothesline will be hung to display jeans with various messages.

On April 16, the YWCA will be at Wright State University Lake Campus holding a denim painting day with students which will be displayed at the campus.

In addition, the YWCA currently has the Keys of Hope Wind Chime hanging outside of their building. Just like the victims of sexual assault, keys are in various shapes, sizes, and colors. The keys also represent liberation and freedom and the doors that can be opened. More information about the Keys of Hope Wind Chime is available by the chime outside of the YWCA.

The YWCA will also be sharing sexual assault statistics for both women and men and information regarding consent and its importance in preventing sexual assault on their Facebook page. Evans encourages people to share the awareness pieces to help educate others on the topic.

“Anyone can get raped; anyone can have a sexual assault,” said Evans. “It can happen to an 80 year old; it can happen to a 7 year old.”