Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Local groups and organizations that provide resources and support for survivors

While the month of April may be sexual violence awareness month, it is crucial that survivors are aware of the resources and support they have available to them at any time throughout the year. If you or someone you know needs support or help please know that these organizations are just a few of the options to find the care and assistance you may need. 

The Women’s and Children’s Alliance (WCA) has provided women with support and resources since its founding in Boise in 1910. In 1980, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center and Rape Crisis Alliance were created, shaping the WCA’s culture and goals as an organization. The WCA strives for inclusivity and wants to ensure that members of the LGBTQIA+ community know that the WCA is a safe place and can offer help.. 

The WCA will once again be participating in Denim Day on April 24. Denim Day was created in 1992 when an Italian Supreme Court case of sexual assault was overturned on the basis that the survivor would have been unable to get her jeans off alone. The WCA will be on BSU campus tabling in the quad to provide education and resources on sexual violence prevention. 

The WCA is part of another initiative called “Paint the Town Teal”, which is a brand new program that took place for the first time on April 2. The WCA team spoke to several local businesses and requested teal decorations or lighting in busy areas of Boise to promote conversations around supporting those impacted by sexual violence. 

Marnie Nichole, the marketing and communications coordinator for the WCA, highlighted one of the organization’s most important resources: the 24-Hour Hotline (208-343-7025).

“Our 24-Hour Hotline is our most critical resource as it allows folks to make that first call, speak to a trained advocate, and begin to access resources,” Nichole said. “Whether that be things like our secure shelter, crisis counseling, our court advocacy, and also be connected with our

partners at the Ada County Victim Services Center where, among other resources, specialized

nurses from St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus hospitals can perform medical exams, or

individuals can choose to speak to law enforcement.”

Nichole expressed the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with the Ada County Victim Services Center, as it helps create a clear chain of resources survivors can choose to pursue.

“Our CEO Bea Black frequently refers to this relationship as though Ada County is the ‘emergency room,’ and the WCA is the ‘hospital,’” Nichole said.  “After you’ve been connected with immediate care in those first critical moments after an assault, the WCA is here to help provide the long-term healing that many seek in the aftermath of the trauma they have experienced. This is where our resources, things like shelter, counseling, case management, court advocacy and even financial empowerment courses, help individuals begin to heal.”

Hallie Shean, a Boise State masters student pursuing a degree in anthropology and a member of AOII, established a WCA club on campus. 

Shean provided a brief statement about why she created the club, as well as what she hopes it will accomplish as a new resource on campus.

“I started the WCA Club because sexual assault and domestic violence is so prevalent on college campuses, with very few students understanding the signs of abuse or what steps to take,” Shean said. “This club is an opportunity for students to join an organization that shares the WCA’s mission, ‘Safety, healing and freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault.’ Our goal is to share WCA resources with members of campus and fundraise for this organization.”

If you are interested in hearing more about the club’s efforts or would like to get involved you can find more information on Instagram @wca.bsu. 

The Gender Equity Center, located on Boise State campus, provides students with a safe and inclusive environment to seek help, education or access to resources. 

Scraggins noted that through various workshops the GEC attempts to correct misconceptions associated with sexual violence and offers help within the GEC through a licensed master social worker.

“These forms of violence exist in every community, and Boise State University is no exception,” Scraggins said. “In our workshops we work to highlight that we all have a role to play in preventing stalking, sexual assault and relationship violence, and that there are a wide range of ways to intervene that are mindful of your safety, comfort and well-being.”

Scraggins highlighted the importance of having organizations like the GEC on campus, specifically due to the high level of women and LGBTQIA+ members who experience of sexual assault. In their sexual violence prevention work, the GEC works with other organizations such as the Coordinated Community Response Team and the WCA to respond and approach prevention efforts in a comprehensive way.

Scraggins discussed the Gender Equity Center’s efforts to ensure that individuals of diverse backgrounds feel they have access to the support they need.

“We do our best to show up for all backgrounds and people,” Scraggins said. “This is promoted through doing our best to stay up to date on information and always be open to feedback. It’s a fine balance between being competent and educated, but also making sure that we know we can’t always know everything and sometimes we have to ask if it’s appropriate and within the right setting.”

Anabella Antonucci, a Boise State senior pursuing a double major in criminal justice and business administration and Academic Senator for the School of Public Service, established ASBSU’s sexual violence prevention committee.

Antonucci noted the difficulty of coming forward as a sexual violence survivor and the difficulty of finding resources on campus.

“Many students may struggle to identify where to turn for help or may feel uncertain about their options for reporting the incident; the fear of not being believed or facing retaliation can deter students from coming forward,” Antonucci said. “Additionally, sexual violence affects not only the victim but the entire campus community. I wanted to establish a student-based support system that not only assures victims of our solidarity but also sends a clear message that sexual violence has no place at Boise State University.”

Although it is important to have a month dedicated to spreading awareness on sexual violence prevention, it is vital that sexual violence survivors feel supported, loved and heard always. These incredible organizations are just a couple of the resources Boise provides and it is pivotal that the community continues to support them.

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