March is sexual assault awareness month, a time when people and helping agencies across the Commonwealth work to spread the word about sexual violence prevention and treatment in their communities. Sadly, nearly one half of Kentuckians report that they have experienced sexual assault or violence by the time they reach adulthood. This figure is made even starker by the fact that many incidents of sexual violence go unreported.
To help support efforts to end sexual violence in the local community, Sisterville Productions will present its annual benefit performance of Eve Ensler’s critically acclaimed play, “The Vagina Monologues.” It will be hosted this year at 7 p.m. on March 28 by the Treehouse Café on Main Street in Hazard, a small venue that provides patrons with an opportunity to enjoy dinner and a show. This VDay performance seeks to shine a spotlight on the epidemic of sexual assault and violence that is silently gripping local communities. Proceeds from the performance will benefit organizations that promote healing and justice for people affected by sexual violence including the community’s rape crisis program, Kentucky River Community Care’s The Rising Center.
The Rising Center provides support to children and adults affected by sexual violence, including a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, legal and medical advocacy, crisis counseling, therapeutic services, and referrals. It serves Leslie, Letcher, Lee, Knott, Breathitt, Perry, Owsley, and Wolfe counties. The majority of its services are free to the public.
Like most programs in the Commonwealth that serve sexual abuse and rape victims, The Rising Center accomplishes diffi- cult and important work on an ever-shrinking budget. Sharp cutbacks in funding for sexual assault programs were felt across the Commonwealth during the last budget cycle, which makes community support even more important. At a statewide level, the PRESERVE campaign is currently underway in Frankfort to ensure that state funding of programs that address violence and sexual assault have the financial means to serve individuals and communities. On a local level, the public is encouraged to support its rape crisis program by participating in the V-Day campaign and attending the play.
For more information about how to contribute to the event or to reserve tickets for the play in advance, contact Leslie Craft at (606) 280-2940 or message Hazard V- Day on Facebook. For more information about the PRESERVE campaign or other sexual assault initiatives in the Commonwealth, visit the website of the Kentucky Associate of Sexual Assault Programs at www.kasap.org.