April 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a movement to end sexual violence in the United States and around the world. This movement relies on people and communities who’ve chosen to do something about it. Olmsted County and the City of Rochester are committed to bringing awareness to this issue and we stand with all individuals who have been impacted by sexual assault.
“I am very pleased to be able to partner with Olmsted County to raise awareness of the issue of sexual assault. Sexual assault often has significant ongoing and negative impacts on the lives of the victims. Raising awareness and providing fast, respectful, and safe services to victims or potential victims can prevent or improve outcomes,” said Mayor Kim Norton.
Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any unwanted sexual contact—either in person or online—including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. The impacts of sexual assault to the victim are numerous and include sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety, loss of work, ongoing fear for safety, strained personal relationships, and more.
Olmsted County is committed to providing services to victims or potential victims of sexual violence.
“Based on the number of clients that Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted (DFO) Victim Services is serving, we know the issue of sexual violence in our community is increasing, not decreasing,” explained DFO Victim Services Program Manager Laura Sutherland.
Every year, DFO Victim Services provides supportive services to nearly 600 victims of sexual violence. In 2020, they provided over 16,000 supportive services to adult victims of sexual assault and over 8,000 services to children who have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse.
Some of the services Olmsted County provides to victims include crisis support available through a 24/7 crisis line, in person support at the emergency department, financial assistance for certain losses related to the crime, support groups for sexual assault survivors, advocacy with criminal cases, support for victims that choose not to report to law enforcement, and referrals for culturally sensitive services.
The prevention of sexual violence is directly related to Olmsted County’s mission to provide the foundation of a vibrant community by protecting and improving the health, safety, and general well-being of our residents. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month and throughout the year, Olmsted County and the City of Rochester encourage everyone to:
- Renew understanding of what sexual violence is and how victims are affected.
- Believe and support all survivors.
- Honor those who have dedicated their lives and time to serving victims of sexual violence in our state.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence, call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 507-289-0636 and an advocate will be able to support you. Additionally, office hours are from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to meet with someone for support. If you are interested in volunteering for the program, please call 507-328-7270.