Women’s Center staff recognized by county

By JOHN RISHEL

jrishel@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — “Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. One in four women and one in six men are sexually assaulted in our lifetime. Out of 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. 84 percent of rapes are not reported to law enforcement; 80 percent of rapes on college campuses are not reported to law enforcement. 20 percent of 10 to 17-year-olds receive unwanted sexual solicitations while using the internet.”

The startling statistics came from Clinton County Commissioner Jeff Snyder on Thursday as the commissioners honored Clinton County Women’s Center staff and proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month.

“Nearly one in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner. Sexual violence places survivors at a significantly higher risk of experiencing long-term health issues, including the increased risk of suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In Pennsylvania, more than 22,000 children work to eliminate sexual violence and provide support to victims. More than 302,000 women and 92,000 men are raped in the United States each year, and dedicated advocates and volunteers work to eliminate sexual violence and provide support to victims. Therefore, throughout the Commonwealth and within Clinton County, we will combine our resources and skills and will pledge to become part of the solution to end sexual violence,” Snyder continued.

Sharon Reeder, interim director at the Hilton Safe House 34 W Main St, Lock Haven, (Clinton County Women’s Center) and three other Hilton staff members were in attendance at the commissioner’s meeting.

“The Women’s Center is a great resource, and we would like to get the word out. Our services are free, so if you know anyone in a situation, send them our way,” Reeder said. “We want to thank the county, throughout town there are blue ribbons being hung in honor of this. Our job is to, within the next 20 years, work ourselves out of a job by bringing total prevention, and there are many programs in place to break that cycle. It is not just a center for women, this kind of thing happens to men too, but typically they don’t want to admit that.”

Reeder said that the safe house has been busy over the last year with beds, as there is a lack of housing in the area to get victims stabilized, so they are working with the Clinton County Housing Authority to make that happen.

“Food is provided to the victims, just no soda or chips. We offer healthy foods but we let them request certain things like muffins or specific cereals,” she said. “We have received several generous donations from the community, and appreciate the support from the county. We take monetary donations and cleaning supplies, but not clothing because we don’t have the storage space. To donate clothing, we ask people to donate to the Salvation Army as we typically give victims vouchers to go there and get what they need,” she said.

Snyder pointed out that, until recently, the UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven Hospital did not have a licensed sexual assault inspector on their staff.

“Victims were asked to go to Bellefonte or Lycoming County to verify that they had been sexually assaulted, and unfortunately not a lot of people wanted to do that. So we set up a meeting with the president of the hospital and that we are very happy to say that issue has been resolved. They now have a doctor and nurse available as needed for those exams,” he said.

Reeder also announced that there will be a “Take Back the Night” event in Lock Haven, April 24, 6 p.m. at Triangle Park and again in Renovo on April 29.

Take Back the Night is an international non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual, relationship, and domestic violence in all forms. Hundreds of events are held in over 30 countries annually. Events often include marches, rallies and vigils intended as a protest and direct action against rape and other forms of sexual, relationship and domestic violence.

For more information on these events or programs offered by the Hilton Safe House, call 570-923-2270 or visit takebackthenight.org.

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