Sexual assault is something communities don’t like to talk about, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said Tuesday, as Working Against Violence, Inc., began a month of programming to raise community awareness about sexual assault.

In 2011, 70 victims of sexual assault visited Rapid City Regional Hospital’s emergency room, and more than 2,000 victims of domestic violence turned to WAVI for help.

“It’s going to keep happening,” Allender said. Another generation comes along and takes up where the last left off to continue the abuse, he said.

“When a sexual assault occurs, a life is broken. There has to be people in place to fix that,” Allender said.

Representatives from many organizations who coordinate their efforts to assist victims of sexual abuse attended the inaugural event.

“You can reach out to WAVI to get support without having to report,” WAVI executive director Mary Corbine said.

About 600 people in 2011 found security at WAVI’s shelter, at 527 Quincy St., she said.

“If you’re afraid of reporting to law enforcement, and you don’t want to do that but you need other types of support, you can call us, and everything is confidential,” Corbine said.

Education is the key to raising awareness and preventing sexual assault, Corbine said.

Over the next month, several events are scheduled to raise community awareness:

y April 2-16 -- Black Hills Federal Credit Union collection drive

y April 5 and 19 -- WAVI information at Rapid City Public Library

y April 11 -- Documentary “Miss Representation” at 6:30 p.m., Elks Theatre

y April 15 -- Hair show, 5 p.m., A.J.’s Wicked Salon & Spa

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y April 17 -- 12 p.m. Western Dakota Technical Institute drive for WAVI and Clothesline Project display

y April 19 -- T.G.I. Friday’s donates 25 percent of sales to WAVI.

y April 25 -- National Crime Victims’ Week Luncheon and Panel, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn. Make reservations to WAVI by April 20. Tickets are $12.

United States Attorney Brendan Johnson will be the guest speaker at the April 25 luncheon. Guest speakers will include South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, retired FBI program director Gayle Thom, Allender, Pennington County State’s Attorney Glenn Brenner, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and 2011 Mrs. South Dakota Shapeera Afraid of Lightning.

WAVI receives funding from a variety of sources but depends heavily on the community for day-to-day essentials necessary to take care of the shelter’s residents, Corbine said.

“Rapid City is a great community,” Corbine said. “We have a lot of support. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do and provide the services we do without the community.”

Contact Andrea Cook at 394-8423 or andrea.cook@rapidcityjournal.com.

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