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Katie Kyker hopes to draw attention to a couple of observances this month.

Kyker is the outreach communications coordinator at The Bridge, which serves people in Dodge, Burt, Cuming, Saunders and Washington counties.

The agency provides services for those who experience domestic abuse and sexual assault.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It’s also National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Nearly one in five woman and one in 71 men are victims of sexual assault, Kyker said.

Each year, more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies, states data from Childhelp, an Arizona agency dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse.

To increase awareness of these issues, The Bridge is involved in various activities.

It will offer materials and displays in all five counties to promote public education about sexual assault. It will have teal ribbons at different businesses to symbolize its dedication to ending sexual violence.

New partners and community members are needed to expand sexual assault prevention efforts, Kyker said.

Everyone can help the next generation foster attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality and respect.

“We all have a role to play in preventing sexual violence in our community,” Kyker said. “Our actions, big and small, have a ripple effect on those we teach, guide and influence.”

Ways to make a difference include: modeling healthy behavior, addressing inappropriate conduct, and believing survivors of sexual abuse when they tell their stories.

“You can help by calling out victim-blaming comments or rape jokes if you see them online,” Kyker said. “Remind those around you that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Seemingly small actions like this make a critical impact.”

Businesses, schools and organizations can help by participating in Denim Days.

This is an awareness event in which people at these places pay $2 to $5 for the opportunity to wear jeans on a certain day. Those donations then go to The Bridge.

Denim Days began in 1990 as part of an international protest against an Italian Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans.

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The court dismissed charges on a 45-year-old suspect, because his 18-year-old victim was wearing jeans at the time of the attack.

This sparked worldwide outcry from those who understand coercion, threats and violence go along with the act of rape.

Women in the Italian Legislature and in other offices wore jeans as a sign of solidarity with the victim and to protest the court’s decision.

To represent the child abuse awareness month, The Bridge will have pinwheels displays in all five counties.

In Fremont, they’ll be on display April 24-28 at First State Bank.

A candlelight vigil is set for 6:30 p.m. April 27 in the Depot facility at Lion’s Park, 16th and Parks streets in Blair.

The Bridge is committed to the prevention and elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault.

In 2015-16, the agency responded to 3,387 calls for help; 727 individuals with 752 children received direct safety and support services.

The 24-hour crisis line is 888-721-4340. All services are available in English and Spanish.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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