Advocates: Work to combat sexual violence and assault is a yearlong commitment

Advocates and counselors say help is available to victims no matter how long ago the crimes took place and that help is also available to secondary victims such as family and friends.

Tom Krosnowski and Rose Shannon

Apr 3, 2024, 9:00 PM

Updated 16 days ago

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Advocates tell News 12 Connecticut that while April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, reducing the number of these crimes is a year-round priority.
During the Rowan Center's proclamation day Wednesday, eight municipalities proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Stamford-based center is lower Fairfield County's sexual assault agency and receives hundreds of calls annually.
"We started about 45 years ago as a trailer in the back of Stamford Hospital doing safe kits when no one else was doing safe kits. What's cool is that over the last few decades, we've grown as an agency," says Sarah Malhotra, the center's director of education.
The center has a three-pronged approach to combating sexual violence through advocacy, counseling and education from elementary school through college.
"We taught about 16,600 students in lower Fairfield County last year. I've seen a change over the last 10 years. I think students are really understanding consent a lot more," says Malhotra.
It will soon open a new long-term therapy center, which its board chair describes as a much-needed resource.
Despite progress made by the center and advocates, work to combat sexual violence and assault still needs to be done.
"Fourteen percent of all Connecticut residents say they were sexually abused as a child. We aren't celebrating. Recognizing, OK. Honoring, sure. The anger that we have to do this work, that we have so much work to do - it feels never ending," says Sharon Walker Epps, the center's chair of the board.
Advocates and counselors say help is available to victims no matter how long ago the crimes took place and that help is also available to secondary victims such as family and friends.
"We just want to make sure that no one is ever alone," says Malhotra.
Anyone who has experienced sexual violence can call the center's 24/7 confidential hotline at 203-329-2929 for English and 888-568-8332 for Spanish.


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