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PASSAGES ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ Event Advocates to Eliminate Sexual Violence, Promote Social Change
PASSAGES, Inc. has been Clarion County’s primary sexual violence advocacy and prevention organization for over 35 years.
Founded as Clarion County’s Rape Crisis Center in 1980, it expanded into Jefferson County in 1983, and changed its name to PASSAGES, an acronym for Prevention And Service For Sexual Assault through Guidance, Empowerment, and Support, in 1995. It further expanded into Clearfield County in 1998.
The organization’s mission is to advocate for the rights and needs of survivors of sexual violence while working to eliminate all forms of sexual violence by educating community members and promoting social change.
Funded in part by the United Way of Clarion County, PASSAGES offers individual and group counseling, a 24-hour hotline, legal and medical advocacy, and sexual violence prevention and education programs.
According to Executive Director Marlene Austin, they serve about 500 clients per year, while also presenting over 800 prevention programs annually.
“Counseling is our main priority, though the prevention programs in schools and the community are very important, as well,” Austin said.
Most recently, PASSAGES, in conjunction with the V-Day program at Clarion University, sponsored Clarion’s Fifth Annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event on Tuesday, April 10.
The event, held annually during Sexual Assault Awareness month, is intended to raise awareness in the community about the serious causes and effects of sexual violence against women.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, and one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. Though anyone can become a victim of sexual violence, the overwhelming majority of survivors are women. NSVRC statistics show that 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male.
Programs like “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” seek to open communication about sexual violence in our communities. The event is also intended to help men better understand women’s experiences, to improve gender relations, and ultimately, to decrease the potential for violence.
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