April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Members of the Dorchester County Council proclaimed April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 2. From the left are Lenny Pfeffer (District 4), Ricky Travers (District 3), representatives of For All Seasons Roshonda Bolden and Beth Ann Langrall, Jay Newcomb (District 1), Libby Nagel (District 5) and William Nichols (District 2).

CAMBRIDGE — Members of the Dorchester County Council issued a proclamation April 2, declaring April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For All Seasons, Inc. Executive Director Beth Ann Langrall and Sexual Assault Advocate Roshonda Bolden received the proclamation.

“The reality is, it’s here in our community,” Ms. Langrall said. For All Seasons is a behavioral health and rape crisis center with branches on the Eastern Shore.

“We seek and cultivate relationships with community partners, including healthcare organizations, schools, faith organizations, neighborhoods, and many others,” the agency’s website says. “We listen to the community, and with their support, we are able to provide exceptional prevention, intervention, treatment, and human services.”

Included in the proclamation read by Vice President Jay Newcomb (District 1) were the following statistics:
• One in six boys and one in four girls will experience sexual assault before their 18th birthdays;
• Youth ages 12-17 are five times more likely to be victims of crime or sexual assault;
• One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their time in college; and
• One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives

“We must work together to educate our community about sexual violence and its prevention, support for survivors, speak out against harmful attitudes and actions, and take action to create a safer environment for all,” Mr. Newcomb said.

Ms. Langrall said, “Our agency has served Dorchester County for 30 years. Dorchester County is our third-highest county in terms of our sexual assault victims. We work in the mental health capacity in your school system, not only providing mental health services, but we have also been recently engaged to provide trauma information in the classrooms. We are the people who respond to your hospital 24/7 for sexual assault victims.”

“We’ve been a strong presence in your community,” Ms. Langrall said. “We are true believers that through processes like this and working together, we will be able to work towards this movement of #MeToo, and help people understand that when #MeToo is said, it’s not about, ‘I blame you,’ it’s simply about #MeToo.”

“The ‘me too’ movement was founded in 2006 to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls, and other young women of color from low-wealth communities, find pathways to healing,” the group’s website says. “Our vision from the beginning was to address both the dearth in resources for survivors of sexual violence and to build a community of advocates, driven by survivors, who will be at the forefront of creating solutions to interrupt sexual violence in their communities.”

“In less than six months, because of the viral #metoo hashtag, a vital conversation about sexual violence has been thrust into the national dialogue,” the statement continued. “What started as local grassroots work has expanded to reach a global community of survivors from all walks of life and helped to de-stigmatize the act of surviving by highlighting the breadth and impact of a sexual violence worldwide…Our goal is also to reframe and expand the global conversation around sexual violence to speak to the needs of a broader spectrum of survivors.”

For All Seasons serves more than 2,600 clients a year, and staff is being added to meet the needs across the five counties in which the agency works.

The Cambridge office is located at 208 Cedar St. To schedule an appointment, call 410-822-1018. For information, visit www.forallseasons.org.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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