April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Carbon County.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted unanimously to participate in recognizing the seriousness of sexual assaults in the country.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, read the proclamation, which states: "Sexual assault affects every person in the state of Pennsylvania either as a victim/survivor of sexual assault of as a family members, friend, neighbor or co-worker.
"Incidents of sexual assault continue to increase and impact all racial, ethnic, economic, geographic and social groups, regardless of age or gender. National, state and local statistics indicate an ever increasing demand for sexual assault services, education and community support."
The proclamation continues that Pennsylvania's sexual assault centers served 68,385 people in 2012 and over 19,000 of those served were sexually abused children.
"Statistics fail to completely represent the numbers of people sexually assaulted since fear of skepticism, ridicule and stigma continues to deter victims from reporting the violation to authorities and seeking help. The staff and volunteers of Victims Resource Center are working towards a society free of sexual violence by promoting prevention and providing numerous educational programs to schools, community organizations and other professional ...
"Therefore, be it resolved that the Carbon County Commissioners proclaim the month of April as 'Sexual Assault Awareness Month' to heighten public awareness and community action to address the issues of sexual victimization in Carbon County; and be it further resolved that Victims Resource Center be commended during 'Sexual Assault Awareness Month' for providing exemplary services to sexual assault victims/survivors and their significant others."
Following the reading, Nothstein asked Tammy Sue Neyer of the Victims Resource Center; and Jeanne Miller, director of the Carbon and Morgan Centers for Lehigh Carbon Community College, to accept the proclamation.
He thanked Neyer and the Victims Resource Center for the services that are provided to victims.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard added that if you know anyone that is being sexually abused to please report it to the appropriate authorities.
Neyer thanked the commissioners for their support and explained that the theme this year is "It's Time To Talk About It," because "it's a crime that goes untalked about because of the content."
She cited the Jerry Sandusky scandal and said that the case showed that this problem needs to be talked about.
"A lot of victims are still out there and haven't come forward," Neyer said. "We're here to help so give us a call."
Miller also commended the Victims Resource Center for their efforts.
She noted that every year, the center puts a display at LCCC about the effects of sexual assault.
The display uses shoes to represent the real lives that have been affected by this very serious problem.
"We must be diligent in supporting our Victims Resource Center because they are extremely important," Miller said.
The Victims Resource Center offers a 24-hour hotline to anyone in need of help; as well as information about the criminal justice system; advocacy to victims' rights; accompaniment to hospitals, police stations, and court proceedings; assistance to filing for victims compensation; counseling; emotional support and support groups; and prevention education programs for the community.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, not only women or children. Services are free of charge and confidential.
If you know someone who was or is being sexually assaulted or have been sexually assaulted, the Carbon County hotline is (570) 325-9641. For more information, visit www.vrcnepa.org.