Crime Victim’s Services host sexual assault awareness event in District 2
April 28, 2018
Gila River Indian News
Community members came together to recognize an important form of violence during a public outreach event.
The Gila River Indian Community Crime Victim Services Department hosted a Sexual Assault Awareness event at the District 2 Multipurpose building on April 28.
The theme of the event was “Embrace Your Voice,” emphasizing the importance of speaking out against sexual assault and sharing stories about how to identify unsafe situations.
The line-up of speakers recalled instances of unsafe situations, that went from normal to very harmful, and that talking with your children about the awareness can prevent them from becoming a victim of sexual assault.
The ultimate message of the event was letting anyone, who has been the victim of a sexual assault to speak out and that something can be done to prevent it from happening again or to someone else.
Although it is a tough topic to discuss, especially from the experience of a victim or one who knows a survivor, the speakers talked about the importance of being aware of your surroundings and knowing what to do in such a situation.
Awareness booths from Community departments and the United States Attorney’s Office were present to offer information on what do, outreach services and what are the rights of a victim of sexual assault.
United States Attorney’s Office Tribal Victim Assistance Specialist Haley Guss, said her office provides victim services to the 22 tribes in Arizona and tries sexual assault cases in federal courts.
“We take cases from off the reservation and we provide services the same way Gila River victim advocates do,” said Guss, “We prosecute a lot of sexual assault cases and we try to connect our victims to services throughout the whole process.”
Governor Stephen Roe Lewis said there is a need to talk about sexual assault and how that impacts someone who has been the victim of a crime because people seldom talk about it.
“We have to make sure that we have those resources to deal with the issue and that we are proactive in taking a stand against sexual assault,” said Lewis, “We also have to remember that sexual assault is a crime that effects both genders and those from various backgrounds and ages.”
He added, that in order to combat the issue, the Community has established a connection with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who is instrumental in prosecuting perpetrators of sexual assault to bring justice to the victim.
District 2 Council representative Carol Schurz said we need to bring this awareness to the forefront so that the people can be aware and careful of their surroundings and the dangers that are out there.
“It starts with talking about it, sitting down and talking with your children about this awareness and how they can protect themselves wherever they are,” said Schurz.
Lewis said, “Your voice has meaning, it’s about making sure, that if something does happen to you, you don’t keep it inside.”