Gale McKoy Wilkins

Executive Director's Message

April 2015

Guest Editor – Elyse Hamilton-Childres, NC Council for Women, Southern Piedmont Region Director

Across the U.S. and right here in North Carolina, April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. The N.C. Council for Women partners with organizations throughout the state that combat these issues and empower survivors every single day. Together with direct service providers, state coalitions, national campaigns, and community stakeholders, the N.C. Council for Women is dedicated to developing a healthy, healing, violence-free North Carolina.

The roots of Sexual Assault Awareness Month began with Take Back the Night marches held in England in the 1970s. Women staged these marches to speak out against the violence they experienced as they walked the streets at night. Their raised voices were heard across the globe, and a growing number of voices joined the cause. The U.S. observed Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally for the first time in 2001 (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Sexual violence remains a major public health and human rights issue today for people of all backgrounds. A nationally representative survey of adults in 2010 found that nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2012). The N.C. Council for Women administers state sexual assault grants and partners with groups such as the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault to sustain vital prevention, education, and intervention efforts.

April was first proclaimed National Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983, marking a growing response to the problem of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. The N.C. Council for Women is committed to the well-being of children and families. Grants administered to domestic violence and sexual assault organizations help to support counseling, support groups, education, and other support services for children and their guardians who may have experienced, witnessed, or be at risk for experiencing violence. The N.C. Council for Women also awarded a Family Violence Prevention Services grant to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence to enhance services for children exposed to domestic violence and co-occurring child maltreatment.

While April presents an opportunity for intentional, unified action surrounding the issues of sexual assault and child abuse, the momentum gathered during awareness months must continue on a daily basis to generate long-term change.