Sexual violence is increasing in Oklahoma and State Senator Andrew Rice is joining with the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault as well as Take Back the Night: Oklahoma (TBTN) to help raise awareness of the growing epidemic.
"April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and to help bring awareness to that we're having a special event on April 1, which will include a march and rally, to reach out to victims, survivors, friends and families to honor and give these victims a voice," said Rice, D-Oklahoma City. "Each year, there are around 1,600 reported cases of sexual assault in Oklahoma, but there are many more that are too afraid to come forward and we want to let those people know that there is help for them and others that have been through what they have."
The "Take Back the Night" event will be held at the South Plaza of the State Capitol on Lincoln Boulevard beginning at 3:00 p.m. The pre-march rally will kick off at 5:15 p.m. with the march beginning at 6:00 p.m. Special guests Sen. Rice and Susan Krug, the Victim Services Unit Chief for the Attorney General's office, along with many others will lead the march carrying TBTN's banner. Participants will march south on Lincoln Boulevard to the crosswalk at 13th street and then back to the Capitol. Following the march, a rally will be held which will include a variety of speakers, including Sen. Rice, as well as entertainment.
"The rally will be important because it will allow people to express themselves without fear and share their stories with others," said Rice. "It will also help raise awareness of sexual violence in our state. We must take a stand against this hideous crime and help break the silence for so many victims."
During his first term in office as a State Senator, Rice has worked hard to help victims authoring such legislation as Senate Bill 105 to create the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act, which would have provided emergency contraceptives for rape victims. To Rice's disappointment, the measure did not receive a hearing in the Senate Rules committee.
"We've got to work together to change the mindset of our state and nation. For the most part, this is a silent crime because victims won't come forward; but we know it's happening. Our society has the mindset of out of sight, out of mind and it's time to change that," said Rice. "I applaud those who have worked so hard to make this historical event a reality and I encourage people to come out and show their support."
Sponsors for the event include the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, Oklahoma Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Oklahoma State Health Department, the Women's Service & Family Resource Center, Latino Community Development Agency/ Proyecto Cambio, Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, Spirits of Hope and the Office of the Attorney General.
For help, information or volunteer opportunities, call the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at 405-524-0700, or visit the Take Back the Night: Oklahoma website at www.takebackthenightok.com.