Letter to the Editor

Good Neighbors help CAASA

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Our agency was pleasantly surprised by a donation we received from the Good Neighbor Fund of the Okoboji and Spirit Lake Territories. We want to openly express our thanks to everyone who may have donated to such a cause. Centers Against Abuse & Sexual Assault (CAASA) provides services to sexual assault/abuse survivors by offering 24 hour crisis intervention services, crisis counseling services, transportation services, information and referral services, legal and personal advocacy, mentoring, and other additional services for victims of abuse. All of the services we provide are free to victims of abuse. The funds CAASA received will go directly back to victim services.

Annually, April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This year's theme ó "I ASK" ó builds on the idea that consent is everything. Asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions. Consent is always about choosing to respect the personal and emotional boundaries of others. It is important for individuals to think about how their actions might make others feel and ask questions if they donít know. When an individual wants to get close to someone, whether it is someone they are hooking up with for the first time or a partner in a committed relationship, it is important to know how to ask for consent. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men are victims of sexual assault (Black et al., 2011); but all of us are impacted by sexual violence not only during the month of April, but throughout the year.

Everyone understands that sexual violence impacts victims and their families, but the effects of this violent crime on communities and society are less obvious. Sexual violence creates a climate of fear, anger, and/or disbelief in the workplaces, campuses, and communities that it occurs in. Additionally, sexual violence generates criminal justice, medical, and crisis and mental health service expenses. Perhaps most damaging are the lost contributions of survivors. All of us can practice consent in our lives by asking permission before assuming and showing respect for others' choices. When it comes to sex, it is important that everyone is on the same page, and the best way to do that is by directly asking for consent.

We can teach this culture of respect and asking in all facets of our lives. Communities and businesses can take action to implement policies that promote safety, respect, and equality. CAASA provides all of these services, presentations, and information to our local businesses free of charge! Please, join us in helping everyone see their role in preventing sexual violence the rest of the year as well.

Once again, we are grateful to the donors of the Good Neighbor Fund! Thank you so much for your generous contribution to Victim Services! You can learn more by contacting 1-877-362-4612.

Sincerely,

(CAASA) Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault