According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in the U.S., one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year YWCA Dayton is taking some big steps to improve and expand their services for victims of Sexual violence.
With a $17 million renovation of their downtown headquarters underway and a planned additional center to be located in northern Montgomery County, YWCA Dayton says they will be able to better serve the Miami Valley.
Sexual Assault Program Manager Caitlin Bentley says while the organization has always reached out to sexual assault victims, they’ve ramped up their direct response program over the last year.
“This isn't an individual issue. Sexual violence doesn't just impact the person that it happens to. It impacts their friends circle. It impacts their family. It impacts their household, neighborhood their whole town."
Caitlyn says the center is now able to operate as a certified rape couseling center through a program that has brought more focus to the needs of their clients.
“We've been reviewed and accredited as a rape crisis center by the attorney general's office and by our state oversight board which is the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence," she says. "What that means is that we have the policies and procedures developed and in place and in practice that we meet the core standards that are set forth by the state but also nationally.”
Throughout the month of April, YWCA Dayton and other local groups, including several college and university campuses will hold awareness events. Jenna Hall, the Sexual Assault Educator for the YWCA Dayton, says her approach to educating other on the issue sexual abuse is essentially discussion-based.
"I try not to lecture too much," she says. "People just need the information they need to know what YWCA Dayton does.... why the YWCA Dayton does what it does, the referrals and resources that we have. So I really just try to supply them with the basic understanding."
Hall says the groups she speaks with will have different levels of knowledge, so her educating approach varies accordingly.
"If they already have a lot of knowledge we might get into a deeper discussion and talk a little bit more about the community aspect of it how it affects the community, what we as co-creators in our community can do to help each other."
Hall says her clients, especially young people, are open to the sometimes difficult conversations.
“Once you get people talking, it's no longer underground. Now it's above ground. It's in the sunlight and people can see it and hear it.”
Details on upcoming sexual abuse awareness events and more information on services are available at YWCADayton.org.