City leaders aim to bring awareness to sexual assaults

Effort targets those who know victims to get them to speak out

By Alicia Booth - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville rolled out its top brass Tuesday to call attention to a major problem in the community: sexual assaults.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year advocates are reaching out to a new group of people to help combat the problem.

They're calling this year's awareness effort "speak out on sexual assault awareness.”

They're targeting the effort toward people who might not have been victims of sexual violence but know someone who was or suspected it was happening but didn't say anything.

Mayor Lenny Curry, State Attorney Melissa Nelson and Sheriff Mike Williams were among those speaking Tuesday to promote the effort.

"First, we are bringing awareness so that survivors like this can find services immediately in the aftermath,” said Robin Graber, director of the Rape Recovery Team program for the Women's Center of Jacksonville. “Second, we are sending a message to the perpetrators in our community that we will not tolerate it any longer, that we will end sexual violence in our community and that our community will be a safe place. And finally, we are saying to survivors that we hear you, we see you and we believe you."

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly one in five American women has been a victim of sexual violence in her lifetime.

Jacksonville leaders hope to lower that number significantly.

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