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Collaboration for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Bar owners and staff are encouraged to learn about the SAFE Bar Network

by JAMIE CRAIG, County Coordinator/Victim Advocate, Family Services Sexual Assault Center

Community members are encouraged to look for the color teal – the color of sexual-assault awareness – throughout April as a marker of community partners and businesses standing with the Sexual Assault Center and the survivors it serves. A few places to look for teal include all law-enforcement squad cars, Kick Coffee in Sturgeon Bay, the Door County Library’s Sturgeon Bay branch and the Door County Justice Center.

Additionally, on April 1, the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower will be lit up in teal to shine a light on sexual violence and offer support for survivors. 

This year, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Sexual Assault Center is also encouraging bar owners and their staff members to learn about and become part of the SAFE Bar Network, which works with establishments to build a culture where staff use active bystander skills to create the comfortable, safe, fun atmosphere that’s needed to attract loyal customers. Sexual Assault Center advocates can provide training to all staff at participating establishments. 

Supporting all survivors of sexual violence will be the focus of Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) trainings for all law-enforcement personnel in April, when they will receive direction on Door County’s SART protocol. A multidisciplinary team of law-enforcement officers, victim advocates, forensic interviewers, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam) professionals, Door County Child Protection Services personnel and prosecutors have developed a SART protocol to facilitate a collaborated, consistent approach to all survivors of sexual assault. 

“SART implementation is important in Door County to ensure whole-process care of an individual who faced sexual violence,” said Dana Stueber, SANE clinical coordinator with St. Vincent’s Hospital. “It ensures victim-centered, trauma-informed care that will provide resources to help them through recovery.”

The Sexual Assault Center assisted 1,192 survivors of sexual assault and sex trafficking in 2021. Its advocates work closely with law enforcement and other community partners to make sure victims get the help they need to begin the healing process. Services are free and confidential, and they include one-to-one support at the hospital and throughout the legal process, information and support groups, as well as prevention education at schools and organizations throughout the community. 

During April, community members may stop at the Door County Library’s Sturgeon Bay branch to get additional information about prevention education and sexual-assault resources.

Finally, a crucial part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is educating the public about the issue of sexual violence and how it affects Door County. Sexual assault occurs everywhere, including in Door County. The majority of survivors know their perpetrators, and according to RAIIN.org, eight out of 10 survivors knew their perpetrator. For child sexual abuse, 93% of perpetrators are known to the victims, and often the perpetrator is someone the family and/or child trusted. 

With these statistics in mind, it is critical for people to believe victims when they disclose sexual abuse and to offer support for the victim and the victim’s family. Fewer than 10% of reported sexual-assault cases are considered false reports, and it is understood that a wide majority of sexually violent crimes are unreported for reasons such as embarrassment, shame and fear. 

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence, the Sexual Assault Center wants you to know that you are believed, that what happened to you is not your fault, and that it is never too late to speak to an advocate about what you went through. 

To set up SAFE Bar Network training, call Jamie at 920.559.7511, and find out more details at safebarnetwork.org.

To obtain more information about sexual violence in Door County, speak with an advocate or connect with our 24/7 hotline, call 920.746.8996.

This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.