2020 was a year we will never forget. While most everyone was watching the COVID-19 reports and trying to navigate what the “new norm” was for daily life, some had something different to worry about. Advocates for sexual assault survivors worried about how they could help. Many public health mandates issued by the State and from support organizations made going to the hospital with survivors impossible; support meetings and in person survivor support were also halted to help stop the possible spread of COVID-19. Women Helping Women’s Rural Program Manager, Davina Cooper, worried about the community she and her volunteers serve in Adams and Brown Counties.
2021 marks the fifth year Women Helping Women has been in Adams and Brown Counties advocating for sexual assault survivors. “Each year we see the need grow for our services. We have had a 136% increase for services provided for our clients and a 191% increase in the number of clients we serve in our five years in Adams and Brown Counties.” Cooper stated.
During 2020, more people were staying home and in close quarters and sometimes in stressful situations. Women Helping Women had a 19% increase in hotline calls. The hotline is open 24/7 to anyone. That number is 513-381-5610. 7,000 clients were served in 2020 alone by Women Helping Women. The Ohio domestic Violence Network reported a 58% increase across the state and noted an increase of severity of violence and an alarming rate of strangulation.
Cooper would like it to be known that, “Locally here in Adams and Brown counties we also saw the increase in severity of violence in 2020.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. This month’s different events take place to bring awareness and support to the cause. Teal Tuesdays are as simple as they sound; wear your teal on Tuesdays to show support and awareness for sexual Assault Awareness. On April 14 and 15 Adams and Brown counties have been asked to “Chalk the Walk” by Women Helping Women. Chalk the Walk is an event where you can show support by using sidewalk chalk and share an inspirational message or a sexual assault statistic on your sidewalk or driveway. Cooper asks interested businesses, residents, schools, civic groups and churches to share their walks with her. You can send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org She also encourages you to share these on your personal social media. Denim Day is April 28, wear your denim to send a message! The theme for day is, “It does not matter what you are wearing, no one is asking to be sexually assaulted.”
In November Women Helping Women posted the following to the agency’s Facebook page. “We are facing rising COVID-19 numbers, painful structural racism, and surging rates of gender-based violence. While painful, we can’t look away–because behind every data point is a person who never should have had to use our agency in the first place.” Cooper stated “Our local office supports and offers assistance to all survivors no matter gender identity or sexual orientation. We also have resources for folks who may need specialized care, services and for various other personal situations”
Cooper urges everyone to remember, “If you or someone you care about needs help please reach out, we are here.” The hotline number is 513-381-5610. Advocates are waiting to help 24/7. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please email email@example.com for more information.