ASU Recognizes "Sexual Assault Awareness Month" with Billboards & Crisis Line Awareness Assistance

News Date
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By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Alabama State University is putting forth its best "CommUniversity" effort to bring greater awareness to the issues of sexual assault and violence against people by sponsoring some public efforts that may be both seen and utilized by its own Hornet Nation family, as well as the general public, in order to take a stand to help decrease occurrences of these awful crimes.
Cheryl Lang, director of ASU's ''Violence Against Wo(Men) Program" (VAWP), has joined with partners from around the city of Montgomery in an effort to install roadside billboards that foster public consciousness, and provide awareness assistance via its ASU Crisis Line to help combat sexual assault and violence in the Montgomery and River Region area.
“ASU is committed to the prevention of acts of interpersonal violence,” Lang said.“The University has introduced a number of initiatives over the years that it utilizes to address and prevent sexual harassment, assault and violence. It is committed to ensuring that ASU is a safe, respectful, inclusive and a welcoming community for our students, staff, faculty and visitors. ASU also wishes to offer assistance to the public that helps it both understand what the crime is and help report those who commit it." 
In addition to the University's VAWP program, the sponsors of this initiative include Montgomery County District Attorney's office, One Place Family Justice Center, Alabama Coalition Against Rape, and Maxwell Air Force Base's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Unit.
Lang said that billboards for the public awareness campaign can be seen in the following four locations in April:
* At the Interstate - 65 & Herron Street exit;
* The corner of Carter Hill Road and Walnut Street (by Burger King);
* On the East-South Blvd. (near Sunshine Street);
* The Atlanta Highway &  Perry Hill Road intersection.
She said that ASU and its partners are utilizing messaging on billboards, reaching out to the public with live and taped news media interviews, and offering ASU's Crisis Line for sexual assault awareness assistance and referrals because these crimes are still one of the most underreported crimes in the nation.
"Victims of sexual assault sometimes feel that they may not be believed by law enforcement or their own peers, as well as having feelings of self-blame," Lang said. "Some young adults, especially college students, also fear that their parents may find out." 
Lang said that many officials involved in this effort also expressed concern of a possible increase of under-reported sexual assault amid the Coronavirus crisis because victims may be experiencing increased isolation/danger caused by social-distancing measures during the pandemic, which may inhibit them from reaching out for help.
"We also realize that people who are already more vulnerable to economic and health insecurity are facing additional challenges during this unprecedented time with increased social isolation. We want them to see the billboards and reach out to us or others who may help them, which includes calling ASU's Crisis Line," Land stated.
The director of ASU's "Violence Against Wo(Men) Program" encourages anyone, both on and off campus, who needs more information or assistance concerning sexual assault awareness to call the ASU's Crisis Line at 334-229-6767, which is operated out of the ASU Department of Public Safety.
"The crisis line is totally confidential and it offers awareness assistance and referral options for counseling and help," Lang said.
Lang added that phase two of ASU's awareness efforts will be a drive-up and get your car tagged with a magnetic decal campaign, which will start as soon as the Coronavirus pandemic eases and it's safe for increased social interaction.