Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and Dial Help’s Victim Services Department is working in the community to break down the stigma around this topic. Every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted (per RAINN). For every 1,000 assaults, only 310 are reported to the police.
As a Victim Advocate, I can tell you these statistics are accurate, and sexual assault happens here in the Copper Country.
To the survivors reading this, I want you to know: It wasn’t your fault, and you did not deserve what happened to you. All of us at Dial Help believe you.
We are here to help you with legal accompaniment, resources, emotional support, and peer support groups. If you need help, or want to learn more about services, call 800-562-7622, text 906-356-3337, or chat online at www.dialhelp.org.
If you’re a community member who wants to show support, there are a few things you can do. The first is to pledge to start by believing when someone shares that they’ve been sexually assaulted.
“Start by Believing” is a public awareness campaign created to end the cycle of silence and change the way society responds to sexual assault. You can take the pledge here: www.startbybelieving.org/pledge/
There are four actions you can take as part of the pledge.
• Start by believing (use words like, “I believe you.” “I’m sorry this happened.” “I am here for you.”)
• Be supportive (use words like, “You can tell me as much, or as little as you want.” “It’s not your fault.” “I’m glad you told me. I’m so proud of you.”)
• Ask how you can help (use words like, “What can I do to support you?” “I can stay with you tonight. Would that help?” “Do you want me to go with you to the hospital or police station?”)
• Avoid “why” questions — even with the best of intentions, “why” questions can sound accusatory and make survivors blame themselves.
You can also support sexual assault survivors by participating in our #CopperCountrySAAM events. We’re sharing social media content each day of April, holding a Puppy Parade for Awareness, and Paint the Town Teal (the color for sexual assault awareness).
If you’d like to make a sign to be displayed in a local business for Paint the Town Teal, contact Dial Help for free crafting supplies. Downtown Houghton businesses like Black Ice Comics & Books, Swift Hardware, Chicago Beefs, and more have donated their window space for signs and posters.
We will be hosting the second annual Puppy Parade for Awareness on April 27 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Kestner Park in Houghton.
To learn more about the walk (or sign up to volunteer), visit www.dialhelp.org/events. The walk route goes through downtown Houghton so you’ll be able to find your signs on your walk. Find Dial Help on Facebook or Instagram for daily prompts, and we urge you to flood social media with love and support for survivors by using the hashtag #CopperCountrySAAM.
Paige Setter-Hallwachs, BA CA, is the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator with Dial Help.