Broward County Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Annual observance encourages open conversation about the issues

Broward County joins the rest of the nation in observing Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month during April. The County's Nancy J. Cotterman Center (NJCC) is promoting the prevention of sexual violence and child abuse through special events and public education during the observance.

Last year, NJCC served approximately 2,700 victims of sexual assault and child abuse. This year's theme, "NO MORE. No more silence, no more violence. Together we can end sexual violence and child physical abuse," underscores the importance of educating everyone to speak out against sexual assault.

"Sexual violence is a silent epidemic and a real public health crisis," said Miriam Firpo-Jimenez, director of the Nancy J. Cotterman Center. "Prevention, education and community awareness is the way to ending sexual violence and disempowering the perpetrators."

Residents throughout Broward County can view the "NO MORE" campaign on Broward County Transit buses and are urged to contact the Nancy J. Cotterman Center at 954-761-7273 and speak to a crisis counselor if they suspect someone they know is a victim of sexual assault or child abuse.

Several local activities planned throughout April include:

Governmental Center Exhibit - April 1 - April 30

Throughout April, residents are invited to stop by the Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, to view a powerful exhibit of survivor art and awareness.

Family Fun and Resource Fair -  Broward AWARE! Protecting Our Children

NJCC along with the Children's Services Council, ChildNet, the Florida Department of Children and Families, School Board of Broward County, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and other community partners, will host a Family Fun and Resource Fair - Broward AWARE! Protecting Our Children, Saturday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Roosevelt Gardens Park, 2841 N.W. 11 Street, Fort Lauderdale. This day of safety and welfare presentations, entertainment, games, raffles and fun for everyone is free and open to the public. For more information call 954-377-1119 or 954-357-5775.

Denim Day - Tuesday, April 22

Residents are encouraged to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing denim and denim ribbons to bring attention to sexual assault and child abuse. This visible show of support encourages everyone to talk about the issues, correct the misconceptions and no longer tolerate the silence that breeds violence.

Denim Day was started in Rome, Italy in 1997. An 18-year-old girl was picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor for her first lesson. He took her to an isolated road where he raped her and threatened her with death if she told anyone. She reported the assault and pressed charges. The instructor was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail. He appealed and the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction and released the perpetrator.

The chief judge argued that, "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex." Enraged by the verdict, women in the Italian Parliament launched an immediate protest by wearing jeans to work. The California Senate and Assembly were motivated to do the same, and a movement was born. Broward County has supported the Denim Day campaign since 2009.

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