April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Throughout the month of April, the YWCA of St. Joseph County will join other communities across Indiana and the nation in raising awareness and honoring sexual assault survivors. The YWCA will also observe the National Crime Victim’s Rights Week, April 22 to 27 with a public awareness campaign.

Sexual violence is an issue that is shrouded in silence and secrecy. The American Medical Association refers to it as a “silent violent epidemic”. Sexual assault, rape, incest, and child sexual abuse are all matters of public health, where informed public and private discussion is just as important as imposing tougher sentences and changing laws.

“It takes everyone in our community working together to end sexual violence, not just sexual assault crisis intervention programs but everyone ­ faith communities, cultural organizations, professional organizations, schools, laws enforcement agencies, hospitals and state attorney’s offices ­ all insisting that our community will not tolerate sexual violence,” said Linda Baechle, executive director of the YWCA of St. Joseph County.

Last year the YWCA launched its sexual assault recovery program.

Maria Schwieter recently joined the YWCA staff as a sexual assault therapist. Schwieter, who is originally from Bolivia, has degrees in psychology, nursing, and mental health counseling.

The YWCA offers free group and individual sexual assault therapy in both English and Spanish to women who have suffered recent or past sexual assault, as well as a Hispanic women’s support group that meets weekly.

For more information on the YWCA sexual assault program call (574) 233-9491. For a list of Sexual Awareness Month activities visit our website at ywcasjc.org.