Teal is the color designated for sexual assault awareness, and the region’s only domestic abuse shelter, Casa de Esperanza, has organized local municipalities to color the area light blue during July.
Casa has petitioned the cities of Wheatland, Yuba City, Marysville and Yuba and Sutter counties to designate July as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Wheatland and Sutter County honored the designation at the end of June, and Marysville, Yuba City and Yuba County will honor the designation at their meetings later in July.
Since 1977, Casa has provided shelter, counseling and advocacy to victims of elder and child abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual assault. Casa has a 24/7 crisis hotline, and a shelter which keeps its location and victims identities confidential for their protection.
“What we had seen is a spike in our calls in July with people that are being assaulted,” said Marsha Krouse-Taylor, Casa executive director.
Krouse-Taylor said she speculated that the summer months can see a spike in violence because of hotter temperatures and shorter tempers but that those were “mitigating circumstances that can make a good excuse” as to why July seems to see a spike in sexual assault cases.
She said that Casa increases its visibility during the month of July with trainings and presentations focused on preventing sexual assault through keeping oneself, home and children safe.
“Our hope is that our communities and our municipalities begin to see that sexual assault awareness is something that they can become involved in and support survivors in their healing process,” Krouse-Taylor said.
Wheatland Mayor Joe Henderson said that the issue of sexual assault is very “personal” and something that “can’t be swept under the rug” or only focused on during the month of July.
“There’s always more that can be done,” Henderson said. “By approving it (the proclamation) we’re standing with the other cities and counties and saying that’s not OK.”
While the month of April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month as well as national Child Abuse Awareness Month – to differentiate the two, Casa designates April for child abuse prevention and July for sexual assault prevention.
Casa provides teal ribbons to businesses and individuals who want to display them during the month. It will also host a sexual assault awareness walk called “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” at the Yuba Sutter Mall July 20 where men are encouraged to walk a mile loop around the mall in high heels.
“Our hope is that this is the month that people are not hiding... that survivors feel like they can come forward and talk to people about it,” Krouse-Taylor said.
She said that through designating July as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, she hopes that people feel they can come forward and talk about it and “be told by their community that we care about them and we value them.”