According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, there are approximately 237,000 victims of sexual assault each year. The majority, 80 percent, are under 30-years-old and two-thirds of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
In conjunction with National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Citizens Against Spouse Abuse Inc. will host its annual awareness walk Thursday.
“We’re calling it our Step Into Awareness walk because that’s really our goal — to get people to be informed that this is happening in our community,” said CASA Court Advocate Amanda Davis. “We usually have a good turnout for the walk but we’re hoping to have a big crowd this year.”
The one-mile march will start in the Bothwell Regional Health Center’s Emergency Department parking lot, continue to South Ohio Avenue and end at the Pettis County Courthouse.
“It’s a symbolic walk, many of our sexual assault survivors get their start hearing about CASA and our services at the Emergency Department and eventually end at the courthouse by getting an ex-parte or order of protection against their abuser,” Davis added.
This year’s walk will also include motorcycle riders with Bikers Against Child Abuse and the Moose Riders. After participants get to the courthouse there will be a proclamation read by Mayor Steve Galliher and CASA’s therapist will give a victim impact statement. Music and refreshments from the Salvation Army canteen will also be available. Staff will have CASA T-shirts for purchase during the event, with all proceeds going to the agency.
“We host this walk every year because everyone needs to be aware that this happens here in Sedalia,” said CASA Shelter Manager Debbie Fisher. “I think people don’t like to think about domestic or sexual violence happening, and if it isn’t happening to them or someone they know directly, they don’t think it exists. We know that’s not true.”
Both Davis and Fisher said they were hoping the walk would encourage residents to learn more about CASA and its services.
“We have a shelter here but that’s not all we do,” Fisher said. “We also offer counseling services and job help. We’re here for someone just to talk to if they need it.
“Every year the walk seems to go a little more, we’re hoping for a great turn out on Thursday.”