Spring is a time of hope where we celebrate growth and change. At the Survivor Resource Center, formerly the Vermilion County Rape Crisis Center, we recently changed our name to better reflect the services that we provide and moved to a spacious building on Vermilion that is welcoming to all.

Change has come in the form of recent movements such as Me Too and Time’s Up that have brought more attention to the issue of sexual abuse and encouraged survivors to use the power of their voice to speak out about their experiences instead of suffering in silence.

On a national scale, this has resulted in the downfall of some powerful people-but what we are seeing in our communities is even more important. People are being empowered to talk about their experiences with friends, family and professionals. Last year alone, The Survivor Resource Center provided services to more than 250 survivors and receive an average of 16 referrals each month. More than 75 percent of our clients are under the age of 18.

In addition to the healing that is taking place, we believe one of the most important changes that can come from this national conversation and community response is the promotion of prevention education. It is through our prevention work that we can imagine a future without the pain of sexual abuse and sexual assault.

When the Prevention Educators from the Survivor Resource Center provide programs to area children and teens about body safety, healthy relationships, and respect, it is for the purpose of teaching the next generation how they should be treated and how they should treat others.

In addition, programs teach bystander intervention-helping people to know what to do if they see troubling or abusive behavior-and encouraging them to safely intervene.

One such program, entitled Green Dot, is a nationally recognized, evidence-based program that is coming to our area. This program is available to school personnel so they may then provide the training to their high school students. Staff from our center and community members will be trained and provide it to schools that do not have the resources to provide it themselves.

We are proud of the prevention work that we do, but we understand that we cannot do it alone. While we reach nearly 6,000 students each year, there are many more that go unserved.

For this reason, we are inviting community members to take part in the training or to join our community task force focused on violence prevention. If you are interested in this initiative contact our Prevention Education Department at at 446-1337.

Sexual assault is a community problem that needs a community solution — and this is a community that cares and has shown a willingness to address the problems that we face, which gives as all reason to hope.

Marcie Sheridan is executive director of the Survivor Resource Center. The organization is supported in part for the United Way of Danville Area annual campaign.

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