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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Riverview Center shines light on the issue

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

One in six women and one in 33 men experience completed or attempted rape.

A sexual assault advocate with Riverview Center, Nora Heaton, believes those statistics may be even higher.

"Everyone is impacted by sexual assault and that could be that they're directly impacted because they have survived it themselves first hand," Heaton said.

"It could also be that they're affected because they're very close to someone who has," Heaton continued.

That statistic does not include other forms of sexual assault or people not asked.

"I would find it hard to find a person in this community who didn't have some direct impact to their life from sexual assault," Heaton said.

The Pandemic's Impact

Heaton stated their offices have seen an increase in calls since February.

She says the pandemic could put survivors in unsafe environments or not allow ways to cope with trauma.

"Since the pandemic is still underway, it's kind of hard to be able to tell statistically what the impact has been, but from just speaking to people, speaking to survivors, I can tell that there's been an increase."

Riverview Center originally had to close their offices, but have reopened for walk-ins.

30 days of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Riverview Center is posting daily prompts on their Facebook Page to raise awareness and provide resources.

"That can sometimes be building awareness by putting out a teal ribbon... to just prompt conversation," Heaton said.

Local law enforcement is participating by placing teal ribbons on their vehicles.

"What we aim to do when we work with law enforcement is just make sure that we are partnering with them as much as we can to be available for the different roles that there are in someone's process," Heaton said.

The Waterloo Police Department, Linn County Sheriff's Office and the Evansdale Police Department are some of the participating departments.

Shining Light on the Issue

From April 19 to 30, Riverview Center will be hosting their 'Evening of Light' event.

The event is usually in person, but will be a two week long virtual event with a silent auction and stories from survivors, staff members and healthcare professionals.

"Us all doing our part to be aware of sexual assault as an issue really improves the quality of the community for everybody," Heaton said.

To find more information on the event click here.

Kennedy DeRaedt

Photojournalist

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