The Cleveland County Abuse Prevention Council is making progress in educating people about sexual assault.
“This is something that is usually not talked about and needs to be,” said Diana Gabriel, a student at Cleveland Early College High School.
Gabriel and Sofia Rodriguez were two of dozens of high school and Cleveland Community College students who attended the revamped Denim Day Council event.
Instead of the usual walk around Court Square to promote sexual assault awareness for Denim Day, the Abuse Prevention Council visited the community college to educate people on Wednesday.
“It’s very different this year. Instead of marching in Court Square, people are walking tables. We have a strong emphasis on education,” said Cathy Robertson, Executive Director of the Council.
Participants moved around six tables to learn about what people go through when they report and deal with assault or abuse.
The walkers learned about the positive and negative reactions survivors may experience when seeking services from schools, health care providers, law enforcement, justice system, churches and victim service providers .
Denim Day began after an Italian Supreme Court ruling in which a rape conviction was overturned because judges accused the victim of wearing tight jeans.
“Dressing is a way of expressing myself,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not for someone to think they can do something to me.”
The Cleveland County Abuse Prevention Council provides helplines, safe shelter, professional counseling, advocacy and case management services to teens and adults who are victims of rape and sexual assault . The council also sends lawyers to assist victims at local hospitals and law enforcement centers.
Over the past year, the Council has assisted 147 victims of sexual assault and responded to 105 emergency calls.
For more information on services or to make a donation, contact the council at 704-481-0043.
Joyce Orlando can be reached at 704-669-3341 or find her on Twitter @Star_J_Orlando.