ST. CLOUD -- Advocacy organizations and survivors of sexual violence alike are observing the 19th annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.

Rebecca Kotz with the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center says this year, the movement is primarily focused on ending sex trafficking and prostitution. Kotz says, unlike many cities, St. Cloud has taken a more progressive approach by adhering to safe harbor laws and not criminalizing victims of trafficking or prostitution.

"Our community has been committed for many years now to not charging adults with prostitution," Kotz explained. "We've seen such positive results. We've actually seen more victims coming forward to report other crimes that have happened to them involving abusers and traffickers. It makes them feel safer because they know they aren't going to be judged or criminalized."

Kotz says her organization has had adjust their observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay at home order.

"It's been a bit of a challenge, just because there are certain events that have, unfortunately, had to be canceled," Kotz said. "So, we've been doing a lot of education through our social media and hoping people will access resources through our website."

 

Staff with the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center will be adding more resources to their website during the month of April. Meanwhile, they continue to meet with and advocate for survivors of sexual violence through phone calls and video chats.

To learn more about the work of the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center and access services, visit their website or Facebook page.