Health and Family Services Cabinet
Gov. Beshear Proclaims March Sexual Assault Awareness Month; Ceremony spotlights prevention efforts

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 01, 2012  
Contact Information:  Media Contact: Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3104; or Jill Midkiff, (502) 564-7042, ext. 3429  


       
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 1, 2012) – The prevention and advocacy efforts of several groups and individuals were highlighted today as part of the kickoff of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The Capitol Rotunda event was cosponsored by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP) and the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General. Governor Steve Beshear has signed a proclamation declaring March as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky.

CHFS Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander said his staff values its collaborations with groups like KASAP.

“Prevention is a priority, and KASAP works hard to educate Kentuckians in all walks of life about sexual assault,” Friedlander said. “These efforts are changing the culture of our communities and helping to end sexual violence.”

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, of Lexington, and Rep. Carl Rollins, of Midway, have sponsored Sexual Assault Awareness Month resolutions in the state Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.

KASAP Executive Director Eileen Recktenwald said more attention is also focused on serving survivors.

“We are helping sexual assault survivors realize they are not alone and have exceptional services available to them in Kentucky,” she said.

The state’s network of rape crisis centers offer comprehensive assistance to all survivors, Recktenwald said.

“Advocates with these centers offer compassion and dignity to women and men who experience such a profound trauma,” she said. “We are grateful for the support of lawmakers and government officials who bring attention to the prevalence and devastation of the crime of sexual assault.”

Eight percent of Kentucky’s citizens will report experiencing rape in their lifetime – 2 percent higher than the national average.

“The keys to prevention of sexual assault are education and awareness,” said Phyllis Millspaugh, a program administrator for the CHFS Family Violence Prevention Branch in the Department for Community Based Services. “There are so many opportunities for talking about safety and personal boundaries, especially among teen boys and girls.”

Teens are part of the highest risk age group for sexual assault, Millspaugh said.

“When we speak out, we are making it clear that sexual assault is a crime, we’re encouraging reporting and we are clarifying what ‘consent’ means,” she said.

At an awards dinner tonight in Frankfort, two Kentuckians will receive the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Award for their contributions to end sexual violence. The winners, who were also recognized at the Rotunda event, are Natalie Kelly, a branch manager at the CHFS Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities and longtime advocate for the state’s rape crisis centers, and Shelly S. Miller, Taylor County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney.

For more information about the sexual assault prevention programs and services and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/violenceprevention.htm or http://www.kasap.org/SAAM.html.

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