Westminster Nonprofit Raises Awareness about Sexual Assault

According to Campus Safety Magazine, 20-25% of female college students experience sexual assault, yet over half of the victims do not report it. This combination creates what Janice Kispert, CEO of Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County, calls “a silent epidemic,” a problem that is becoming increasingly more prevalent, has dire long-term consequences, and is only recently becoming part of the common discourse.

President Obama has started to address similar sexual assault problems in both the military and on college campuses as well. “I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women,” Obama told the New York Times.

Vice-President Biden added, “Our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse. No matter what she’s wearing, no matter whether she’s in a bar, in a dormitory, in the back seat of a car, on a street, drunk or sober — no man has a right to go beyond the word ‘no.’ And if she can’t consent, it also means no.”

While the President and Vice President address these issues on a national level, and our own campus safety in the McDaniel community, on an individual level, Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County (RCIS) is available to help. When anyone comes to RCIS, they are treated with the utmost respect and sympathy and complete confidentiality. If they come to get aid for a recent or past assault, RCIS will accompany them to the hospital or the police station as needed, though only if the victim wishes to. Sometimes, all that the victim needs is someone to talk to, a service RCIS provides via various formats including a resident advocate and/or 24-hour hotline (410.857.7322).  Walk-ins are welcome to speak with the staff members Monday-Friday. All services are free and available to anyone.

Eunice Wooten, a licensed social worker, has worked at RCIS since 1987, first as a volunteer and now as a Crisis Intervention Specialist. She is one of the people who will be there to accompany victims to the hospital, police, even to court. “We bend over backwards to be there when they need us,” she said, reviewing the packet of resources RCIS provides to anyone who comes through their doors. When I asked Eunice why she has stayed with RCIS for going on 27 years, she proudly informed me, “I wouldn’t want to be here if there wasn’t success.”

Victims of sexual assault are encouraged to use resources available 24/7 at RCIS.  RCIS is located at 224 North Center Street, Room 102, Westminster, Maryland. Visit www.rapecrisiscc.org for more information.

Those looking to help victims and raise awareness of this issue should take part in RCIS’ annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, a walk to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.  The walk will be Saturday, April 12. Register at Walkamile.rapecrisiscc.org.  Both men and women are encouraged to participate.

Dale Kline is an intern at Rape Crisis Intervention Service.

Image courtesy of RapeCrisiscc.org