Hazard Mayor Nan Gorman proclaimed March 2012 as sexual assault awareness month on Tuesday.
The Rape Crisis Center in Hazard is affiliated with Kentucky River Community Care and provides counseling and legal advice to those who have been victims of sexual assault of any kind. Tammy Cook, a legal advocate, said that even though she works with rape victims every day it is hard to know just how prevalent the issue is.
“Of course we feel that it is under reported because of the stigma that goes with reporting,” said Cook. “A lot of times there is embarrassment or shame that goes with it.”
Cook also said that often times women know their attackers and can even be family or their husbands making it more difficult for them to seek help. She she hopes this proclamation and the celebrating of the month will help more women seek help after these traumatic events.
“What we are doing is just trying to raise awareness this month about sexual abuse and the prevalence of it,” she said.
Another way of educating people on the issue is through their first annual sexual assault awareness day. It will be held of March 20 at the Hazard Community and Technical College.
“We are going to have speakers throughout the day and lunch,” said Cook. “We are just going to dedicate that day to raising awareness.”
Cook added that anyone who is a victim or knows a victim that they want to get help can call the Rape Crisis Center.
“We have therapists on staff that cover each of the eight counties that Kentucky River Community Care serves, so we absolutely have people there that are available to them,” said Cook.
They can be reached at 1-800-375-RAPE.