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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Back in the 1970’s, women in England held protests called ‘Take Back the Night’ marches, to bring light to sexual assault. As word spread about the movement, awareness of the issue grew until April was declared Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2001.

In Alpena, Hope Shores Alliance says April is a month in which the community can focus on the issue at hand, and get the word out that these things happen far more often than we think.

Sexual assault crimes are some of the most unreported in the country, and legal advocate Jeanine Kaltz says that can result from a negative stigma associated with sexual assault.

She says society has created a narrative in which people are told, don’t even bother with reporting sexual assault, it will just make it that much worse for you. But this isn’t necessarily true she says, when police, prosecutors, and a community work together.

Hope Shores Alliance executive director Katy Conklin says in communities like Alpena, the first step is acknowledging the issues exist.

“What it means to our community is we are not immune to sexual assault. As a matter of fact Michigan is number two in the nation for human trafficking, and most of that is sex trafficking,” says Conklin. Although not everyone is directly affected by sexual assault, there is something that everyone can do to protect this community from the crime.

“As a community, which I think all of northern Michigan we pride ourselves on being a community that cares, supports, and knows their neighbors, we can use that!” Kaltz says. She went on to say that if we create a community where it’s not safe to be violent, we’ll see some huge changes. Numbers will lower, and at the end of the day our community will be better for it.