By Jessica Rice
Community Education Programs Supervisor
Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, Inc.
With the culmination of the guilty verdict in the Bill Cosby retrial, survivors and their allies finally feel validated and vindicated. It has galvanized victim advocates in their efforts to seek justice for victims. The guilty verdict was also a pivotal moment for the #MeToo movement and has brought a renewed sense of hope and empowerment. VSC hopes that the county and the nation at-large recognize the importance of acknowledging the impact of sexual violence and begin the work needed to prevent the occurrence of sexual violence.
VSC provides education programs to promote sensitivity and awareness in the community. The prevention education topics that are available are (but not limited to): child sexual abuse, bullying, sexual harassment, personal safety and empowerment, healthy relationships and bystander intervention. They also provide state-certified mandated reporter training and workplace harassment training. Programs are available to all ages and groups in the county. The Education Department leads activities to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This year VSC education services helped facilitate a film screening of the documentary titled, “The Hunting Ground” at a local college, helped with “Take Back the Night” events and other awareness campaigns at colleges and universities in Montgomery County.
In April, VSC hosted their 7th annual SAAM 5K Run/Walk event at Norristown Farm Park. Children, their families and friends enjoyed a variety of activities. Some activities included a DJ, photo booth, a face painter and ladder ball! On the lawn of the park pavilion, there was a display of teal balloons formed into a ribbon to represent a statistic about sexual violence. According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. A balloon was placed in the ground every 98 seconds from the time check-in opened until the event ceremony started. There were a total of about 75 balloons displayed to symbolize 75 victims of sexual assault. Proceeds from the event help VSC to maintain free of charge services for victims of sexual assault in Montgomery County. VSC appreciates everyone who participated in the event. Their support encouraged survivors to speak out, seek help and feel believed by their community. This can make all the difference.
We invite people to contact the Education Department to request education programs and learn ways to engage in sexual violence prevention efforts.