Be proactive against sexual assault

"It's Time ... To Get Involved." This year's theme to mark April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an effort to engage bystanders, individuals and communities, to get involved to make a difference in the safety of our relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and communities.

This pervasive crime affects at least 3,040 women and 962 men in Kansas each year. However, sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes, with only 41 percent of rapes being reported to law enforcement, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2009. Rape does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, education, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. Rape happens in every community, both rural and urban.

Most rapists know their victims, someone who is accessible to them, such as an acquaintance, intimate partner, family member or friend. In 78 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement in Kansas, rapists knew their victims.

Rape is not about an uncontrollable sex drive; it is domination, humiliation, control and violation of victims. There are no excuses or justifications for rape; provocative clothing or behavior does not equal consent. That is a myth we use to help our belief that "it can't happen to me."

As a bystander, or witness, speak up or step up when you see something occurring that causes you concern, even though you may not know what to do, or what others will think of you. You can help victims and survivors of rape. Listen without judgment. Believe what the victim tells you. Do not blame the victim, because no one asks to be sexually assaulted.

Seek resources and services in your community to provide assistance. Volunteer and donate to a local sexual violence advocacy program in your community. It's time to get involved.

Family Crisis Services Inc. hotline number is 275-5911 or the Kansas Crisis Hotline number is (888) END-ABUSE.

ROBIN SHELDEN

Garden City

Support, attend local events

On behalf of the Garden City Family YMCA, I cordially invite everyone to attend the Kansas Barnstorming Tour on Saturday, April 16, at 5 p.m. at Garden City Community College.

This is an event we have hosted for several years dating back to the early 1990s. The response from the community has been up and down, but considerably down the last two years. This is just one of the many events we do to stimulate the economy. I know there are many other events and venues that have the same focus. The big draw for southwest Kansas is Garden City and, if there is not a sufficient crowd, the decision makers will move the event to another venue. I would sure hate to lose this event.

I serve on the Convention and Tourism Committee and our focus is to put "heads in beds." This event doesn't put "heads in beds" but it does stimulate the economy a little as people drive from all over southwest Kansas to attend this event. They will buy gas, get some food and maybe do something else, who knows.

We host a basketball tournament, and this past year we canceled it for lack of teams. Ten years ago, this same tournament had 126 teams from four states. Now I know everyone is busy, but please support the local events. If we don't, it will get harder and harder to bring major events to our community. I am a firm believer that Garden City has plenty to offer and events such as ours need the support of the community and all of southwest Kansas.

Sincerely,

CHAD KNIGHT

Garden City

Knight is executive director of the Garden City Family YMCA.