Jeans campaign helps to promote sexual assault awareness

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

According to Karah Chandler of the Selma and Black Belt Regional Area Sanctuary, many women tend to believe avoiding dark alley ways or walking alone at night will protect them from becoming victims of sexual assault or rape. In reality, there are rarely strangers lurking in the shadows waiting for defenseless victims to walk by.

The majority of rapes and sexual assaults occur in the victim’s own home, usually by someone they know and trust, Chandler explains.

Equally surprising is that a large number of rape victims are young teen-agers just barely out of middle school.

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For the past few weeks, SABRA Sanctuary has been diligently working to promote April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This Thursday is Jeans Day, where local businesses allow employees to wear jeans to work if they make a donation to sexual assault awareness.

Last year SABRA managed to raise $800 for sexual awareness through participating local businesses. This time around, the campaign has expanded to Camden and Marion, with Judson College helping out as well.

SABRA has handled seven rape cases in Dallas County since January. There are likely more, Chandler said, but the victims have not come forward with the crime.

A victim who chooses to be taken to SABRA after an attack will be treated by a specially trained staff person at no charge.

If a person is sexually assaulted or raped, it is best if police are notified within 72 hours of the incident, she said. It’s also important the victim fight the urge to take a shower in order to preserve evidence left on the body. Other evidence such as clothes and sheets should be saved to prove the crime was committed.

Talking about the experience of being raped is hard, but proper counseling can help victims heal from the experience.

Chandler says she likes to do an average of six counseling sessions

with each person who comes to SABRA.

Chandler said the best way for women to protect themselves against sexual violence is to take self-defense classes. If a rape or assault occurs, they should go to a safe place immediately.

Businesses or persons interested in participating in Jeans Day or want to donate to sexual assault awareness should contact the SABRA Sanctuary at 877-4384.