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Sexual assault awareness

Commissioner Jonathan Fritz, left, Michele Minor-Wolf, the executive director of Victims Intervention Program, commissioner Brian Smith and commissioner Wendell Kay mark sexual assault awareness month.
Contributed photo

By L.A.K. McKean
April 10, 2013

“Let’s Start a Ripple... and Then Create a Wave.” This has been the motto for Wayne County’s Victim’s Intervention Program (VIP), and creating waves happens to be exactly what they have been doing. Michele Minor-Wolf, executive director of the program, who has been working to create programs that benefit victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, addressed the Wayne County commissioners meeting on April 4.

VIP, which has served 102 adult victims and 49 child victims and 75 significant others of sexual assault within the last year, is currently working on two projects. The first, called the Lethality Assessment Project, will involve law enforcement officials from around the area working together with VIP volunteers and advocates, as well as victims, in a concentrated effort to screen for high-risk cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to get a shelter to place victims.

The second effort is called Project Connect, in which VIP is partnering with Honesdale High School to work with youth and educate them on adolescent relational abuse as well as sexual abuse. One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Minor-Wolf also said some 20% of young people are exposed to unwanted sexual solicitations through the Internet.

VIP is encouraging people to speak out when they witness acts of violence and to become effective in reducing sexual violence in Wayne County through education, increased awareness and essentially by helping to hold perpetrators responsible for their acts of violence.

VIP provides services such as individual counseling, crisis intervention, support groups and community education. The services are confidential and encourage people to reach out either as a witness, or as a victim/survivor to call their hotline at 800/698-4VIP. In recognition of the work and effort toward helping people, the Wayne County Commissioners presented VIP with a proclamation to make April 2013 Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In other news, the Wayne County Safety Committee, which reviews matters regarding the sheriff’s department, prosecuting attorney, corporation counsel, community corrections, county clerk, and the county courts, has been presented with a risk management award for their effective service in keeping Wayne County safe. The diligence of the committee has contributed to keeping insurance rates low, which helps keeps taxes from rising.

Also, the Wayne County Bureau of Elections received the commissioners’ approval to use the Park Street Complex as a polling place effective May 21.