MONROE – While cold, misty rain fell Saturday morning, about 80 dedicated participants marched through puddles and wet pavement, down the streets of Monroe, in a public demonstration against child abuse and sexual assault.
The second annual Victims’ Rights Awareness March, organized by United Family Services, brought together law enforcement officers, students, social workers, volunteers and concerned community members in an effort to combat child abuse and sexual assault through increased awareness.
“We thought it would be a great way to kick off Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is April,” said Ashley Lantz, victims’ services coordinator for United Family Services.
The marchers began the walk at 8:30 a.m. at the United Family Services office, and made their way to the Union County Government Center.
Founded in 1909, United Family Services provides a 24/7 rape crisis hotline, crisis companions (who provide support during an immediate crisis), licensed professional counselors, age-specific support groups and advocates for victims whose case goes to trial.
In 2011, United Family Services provided help to 133 abused children and accompanied 41 sexual assault victims to the hospital. The numbers were up slightly from 2010, with 121 abused children and 35 sexual assault victims.
“I don’t think the numbers are increasing because there’s more going on,” Lantz said. “I think they’re increasing because people are realizing what resources are out there, available to them.”
Marcher Teresa Weis firmly believes increasing awareness is part of both preventing and taking action against child abuse and sexual assault.
“It’s important because people do sit in silence,” Teresa Weis said. “We need to share this information with the community to reach out to people so we can stop (abuse) and prevent it.”
Want to know more?
For more information on United Family Services or Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit www.unitedfamily
services.org or call 704-226-1352.
The number for the 24/7 rape crisis hotline is 704-283-7770.