SAAM VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK: Edward McGovern

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For the month of April, nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM),  ACTS Sexual Assault Services  will highlight the work of several of our program volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to support survivors of sexual violence.  This week’s Volunteer Spotlight features Edward McGovern, ACTS Sexual Assault Services Volunteer of the Year. Ed not only volunteers his time on our hotline, he is also a powerful speaker, which has enabled ACTS to connect with an audience that is typically hard to reach. In addition, Ed serves on the Sexual Assault Awareness Month committee and represents ACTS at community outreach events. According to Terry Swirchak, Community Educator for ACTS Sexual Assault Services; “Ed is kind, humble, gracious, empathetic and willing to put himself out there in an effort to help others. Those who have worked with Ed know him to be a great teammate and someone who can...
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SAAM Volunteer Spotlight of the Week: Iris Coleman

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For the month of April, nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM),  ACTS Sexual Assault Services  will highlight the work of several of our program volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to support survivors of sexual violence.  It is never easy to hear someone’s story of sexual assault. This is what Iris Coleman has been doing over the last 2 ½ years as a Volunteer Crisis Listener for the ACTS Sexual Assault Hotline. Sometimes, Iris is the first person the survivor tells about their assault. Her job is to let the caller know that she is there to listen, believe them, and provide support. Sometimes support means offering resources, such as how to reach ACTS Sexual Assault Services. Other times it involves helping the person to make their own decision as to whether or not to seek medical attention, or involve the police. But often, listening is...
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SAAM Volunteer Spotlight of the Week: Paige Meade

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For the month of April, nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), ACTS Sexual Assault Services will highlight the work of several of our program volunteers who give freely of their time and talents to support survivors of sexual violence.  This week’s Volunteer Spotlight highlights Paige Meade. Paige first learned of ACTS Sexual Assault Services in 2006, when she joined a survivor’s support group to help her work through the aftermath of a violent sexual assault that happened in Manassas in 1992.  “I was at my lowest, and the group welcomed me and helped me work though long-buried issues,” says Paige.  “I’m not sure what I would have done without that support, so I believe it’s important for me to give back to my community.”  Currently, Paige volunteers 96 hours per month. She is routinely on call for hospital accompaniment visits to provide support during the sometimes-lengthy forensic exam. Paige...
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#MeToo: 25 years ago in Prince William County

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According to Susan Sullivan, Prevention Campaign Specialist for The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), “With the #MeToo movement transforming the way our society is talking about the issue of sexual violence, the theme of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), Embrace Your Voice, feels like a perfect fit.” The voice you will hear below is that of Paige, a former ACTS client and current volunteer .  In 1992 a man followed me home from work and broke into the basement of my dad’s townhouse in Manassas.  I was 19.  It was my dad’s birthday.  These are the facts that are easy to recount.  Harder to tell is what one human being has to do to another to earn two (two!) life sentences in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  But I did tell those things – to the police, and eventually in a courtroom to secure those two life sentences.  Afterward?  I packaged up those awful facts and tried to...
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Say It Out Loud!

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“Thank you for sharing your story.” “You are so brave.” “You are helping other people by letting them know that they are not alone.” These are some of the most common statements heard from people who have just listened to a survivor tell their emotional story of sexual abuse or assault . In fact, helping others is a huge reason why survivors decide to open up. However, telling your trauma story can be one of the most effective coping strategies for dealing with trauma related stress and a significant step in the healing process. With the support of a professional, shaping and sharing your story helps organize memories and feelings into a more manageable and understandable narrative. Plus, the process of creating the story is in itself beneficial.  Additionally, listeners provide much needed interaction and support with their willingness to hear what the survivor has to say. Not everyone has to...
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Sexual Assault Awareness Month Boosts Year Round Efforts

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Boosts Year Round Efforts
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States and the attention generated during this time helps energize and expand ACTS efforts throughout the year. Working alongside volunteers , survivors, advocates, and other allied professionals, ACTS Sexual Assault Services is engaging the Greater Prince William community through special education and outreach activities. Learning about sexual violence is important because more than likely, someone you know has been victimized. In fact, every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted and every eight minutes, child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse. And, most of the time, the victim knows the perpetrator.  Sexual violence does not discriminate based on race, physical appearance, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, disability or a victim’s background. Adding to the problem, sexual violence doesn’t just affect the victim. Family members, friends, co-workers and anyone close to...
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