RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are victims of sexual assault each year. This month law enforcement and local organizations are working to raise awareness in an effort to help victims and prevent the crime.
In Pennington County, there has been an increase in the number of sexual assault cases. Last year, the sheriff’s office reported 422 victims.
“The numbers fluctuate every year, but seem to remain a high and steady amount that we deal with,” Scott Hultgren, Victim Specialist, said.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It takes bravery to come forward with a case, and the sheriff’s office wants people to know there are resources to help.
“This month is about raising awareness and education to people who might be going through this just to understand that we are here for you. Us and our partners will do everything we can to walk through this difficult process,” Capt. Dustin Morrison, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, said.
Working Against Violence, Incorporated or WAVI is a good resource. It has been providing programs for people dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault for over 40 years.
“Raising awareness is really important so that we can decrease this crime happening. Part of our mission is that we are to create a community free of sexual assault and domestic violence so by raising awareness, we can decrease this crime, increase bystander intervention and let people know that this isn’t their fault and they don’t deserve this,” Ashley Wasserburger, WAVI Education Dir., said.
From support groups to legal help, WAVI walks with victims of sexual assault through the process.
Working Against Violence, Incorporated, accepts anyone dealing with domestic abuse or sexual assault. It is currently taking donations.