Hoping to spread information on a taboo subject: sex assault

Dina Phippen spent her Saturday giving away something that she hopes people will never need.

Phippen has been stationed outside local supermarkets giving out cards with information about Advocates to End Domestic Violence. Her hope is that no one will ever need to use the nonprofit group's services, but she knows that's not likely to happen.

"I tell people, take one of our cards, but I hope you never need it," Phippen said.

Phippen is a member of Sexual Assault Response Advocates, one department of Advocates, and was out promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

"We want people to know that if they are a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, they are not alone. We will help them through every step of the process," Phippen said.

Phippen said the month is designed to shed light on a subject that most people find taboo, and lets victims and family members know they are not alone.

"Sexual violence makes people cringe a little on the inside. It's something that makes people uncomfortable and keeps them from talking about it," Phippen said.

Advocates offers a variety of services to women and children, including a 51-bed shelter, transitional housing, support groups and contacts with lawyers and plastic surgeons. The group also provides education to students in area high schools about sexual assault and domestic violence. Advocates also has volunteers on call 24 hours a day to staff a hotline and provide support should an incident occur.

"My wish is that we could have more volunteers so that we can continue to spread information and make it not such a taboo subject," Phippen said.

While she said the majority of the responses have been positive, she did get a negative response in the form of a joke from one man.

"I think he's just uneducated and doesn't realize that sexual assault can ruin a life," Phippen said. "But the thank-yous we get from people who have seen our services help make it all worth it."

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


S.A.R.A 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 883-7654

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips

For Women:

• Say "No" firmly instead of using phrases such as "I don't think so." A firm statement is more believable.

• Be clear, honest and consistent in your sexual desires and limits.

• Avoid excuses; this is a passive response.

• Be repetitive. Repeating "No" may be necessary for the other person to accept and believe it.

• Remember that alcohol and drugs will impair your judgment and your ability to act responsibly.

For Men:

• Understand that forced sex is never acceptable; it is rape.

• Accept "No" as "No." Don't read other meanings into the word.

• Be responsible for your own sexual limitations and actions.

• Exert peer pressure on your friends so they understand that forcing sex does not make you a man.

• Remember that alcohol and drugs will impair your judgment and your ability to act responsibly.

• Remember that spending a lot of money, dating for a long time or previous sexual intercourse, does not obligate your partner to sexual intercourse.

- Source: www.saraadv.org


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