GREEN BAY (NBC26) — More than 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the CDC.
“We need to be courageous if we’re going to make that change," said Kwnwahta Smith, Youth Outreach Specialist for Dare2Know.
Smith is part of a state-wide group of young people raising awareness about sexual assault and relationship violence. With the COVID-19 pandemic challenging the way advocates help victims, organizations like Dare2Know found creative ways to raise awareness this April, utilizing social media to get the message out.
“They see it everywhere: movies, social media," said Smith about sexual violence. "It’s kind of part of their lives.“
This month is about having tough conversations and creating a cultural shift, he said.
"To fight against it and to lower the rates of sexual assault so women don’t have to fear for their life when they’re out in the streets going for a walk, if they’re exercising," said Smith. "To challenge rape culture and rigid gender norms that perpetuate that kind of violence. It normalizes it for other people to constantly sexualize women and others.”
The Family Services Sexual Assault Center provides emotional support and legal advocacy for victims in Brown, Door, Oconto and Marinette Counties.
“We’re just there as a sounding board for victims to listen to them, to help them process the trauma they’ve gone through.“
This month, 19 different law enforcement agencies put ribbons on their squad cars, showing the relationship between them and the Center in responding to abuse and violence. The Center also partnered with different coffee shops, putting information on coffee cup sleeves.
“You see items that range from army uniforms to kids pajamas," said Fisher. "So it’s not women going out at night you know in their dresses, that’s the common perception.”
The biggest thing she wants community members to take away is to always believe victims.
“There is a lot of fear in reaching out and making that first step, a lot of shame about not being believed, or maybe I did something to cause it," said Fisher. "I can guarantee that it is never the victims fault.“
Family services has 24-hour crisis locations in all four counties it serves. The sexual assault center is also always looking for volunteers and donations. You can find more information here.