Thursday, 02 28, 2013
Media Contact: Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3104; or Jill Midkiff, (502) 564-7042, ext. 3465
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 28, 2013) – The prevention and advocacy efforts of several groups and individuals were highlighted today as part of the kickoff of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Capitol Rotunda event was cosponsored by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP). Governor Steve Beshear has signed a proclamation declaring March as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky.
CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes said her staff values its collaborations with groups like KASAP.
“Prevention is a priority, and KASAP works hard to educate Kentuckians in all walks of life about sexual assault,” she said. “These efforts are changing the culture of our communities and helping to end sexual violence.”
Sen. John Schickel, of Union, and Rep. Leslie Combs, of Pikeville, have sponsored Sexual Assault Awareness Month resolutions in the state Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.
KASAP Executive Director Eileen Recktenwald said she’s seeing more attention focused on sexual assault prevention.
“It’s gotten a lot easier to talk about,” she said. “Along with the groups and individuals we honor today, more and more parents, teachers and community leaders are addressing the issue. Sexual assault prevention is a vital part of health education.”
Recktenwald said it’s also important that sexual assault survivors realize they are not alone. The state’s network of rape crisis centers offer comprehensive assistance to all survivors, she said.
“Women, men, young people and even friends and relatives of those recovering from sexual assault may have many questions, or just want to spend time with someone who understands,” she said. “Advocates with these centers offer compassion and dignity to women and men who experience such a profound trauma.”
Recktenwald said that even friends and relatives of assault survivors may get help through the centers.
Kentucky is building stronger prevention and survivor programs through collaboration.
“We are grateful for the support of lawmakers, government officials and community partners who bring attention to the prevalence and devastation of the crime of sexual assault,” she said.
Nearly 8 percent of Kentucky’s citizens will report experiencing rape in their lifetime – 2 percent higher than the national average.
“The key to prevention of sexual assault is education,” said Phyllis Millspaugh, a program administrator for the Family Violence Prevention Branch in the CHFS Department for Community Based Services. “We need to take every opportunity to talk about safety and personal boundaries, especially among teen boys and girls.”
Teens are part of the highest risk age group for sexual assault, Millspaugh said.
“It’s important that we remind young people that sexual assault is a crime. It is never acceptable to force sexual activity, no matter what the circumstances,” she said. “Beyond awareness, we must encourage counseling and especially reporting.”
At an awards dinner tonight in Frankfort, two Kentuckians will receive the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Award for their contributions to end sexual violence.
The winners, who were also recognized at the Rotunda event, are Rick Bartley, Pike County Commonwealth Attorney; and Elizabeth Rittinger, coordinator of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) and Developing Options in Violent Emergencies (DOVE) programs for St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood.
Also recognized as the 2013 Innovative Program Award winner was the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati’s Trauma Care Program. Through the Women’s Crisis Center, which serves northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, this nonprofit volunteer group provides clean clothes and personal products to survivors of rape, assault and violent abuse at hospitals and women’s shelters each month.
For more information about the sexual assault prevention programs and services and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/violenceprevention.htm or http://www.kasap.org/SAAM.html.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the