Alexandria Bordas, April 7, 2018

BUNCOMBE — Between July 2016 and 2017, more than 400 people used resources at the Family Justice Center to report allegations of sexual violence and abuse in Buncombe County. There has been a nearly 40 percent increase in people accessing intake services in Buncombe, a new report stated, as centers around the nation recognize sexual violence awareness month in April.

The center, a place where victims of domestic and sexual violence can access support resources from law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, health care providers and government services, opened in 2016 in response to the lack of accessibility for victims to report abuse.

April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a theme of “Embrace Your Voice.” The Buncombe facility teamed with other sexual violence support organizations in Western North Carolina to create the eNOugh Committee, which has coordinated a handful of awareness events to community members throughout April.

“Our community is coming together to say ‘enough’ to domestic and sexual violence,” said Julie Klipp Nicholson, Family Justice Center Coordinator.

This April’s awareness month comes after a year of exposes have been released on sexual assaults against women across many professions and industries, igniting the #MeToo movement, which organizations are aiming to build on this month.

The newest campaign in and around Asheville is an art installation called The Still Standing Campaign, which focuses on the strength and resilience of survivors.

The art installation comprises lifesize silhouettes with a portion of a survivor’s story painted over it. The silhouettes are being displayed in libraries, bookstores, coffee shops and community centers.

“We are hoping this will encourage others to come forward and find the safety and support they deserve,” Klipp Nicholson said.

“I think it’s amazing to see these stories out in public,” said a woman identified only as Katherine, whose story is featured on a silhouette. “I hope that the takeaway when you see these is that you understand this does happen to everyone and that my story could be their story.”

There were 24,062 crisis calls made to sexual assault agencies in North Carolina in 2016, reported the Family Justice Center.

Geoff Sidoli said cases of child abuse have also been on the rise, with 3,400 cases reported in Buncombe in 2015 and nearly 5,000 in 2017. Most of these cases contain some level of sexual assault, said Sidoli, director of the Mountain Child Advocacy Center in Buncombe.

Article Source:  Asheville art installations depict sexual assault survivor’s hopeful stories