Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Group Gathers to Send Message to Attackers, Offer Victims Hope

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Weather conditions prompted the Iowa Coalition for Sexual Assault to move its silent protest inside as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

IowaCASA kicked off April by taking to the crowded skywalk in downtown Des Moines.

“It’s a critical piece that we need to be aware of and be open-hearted to the dialogue around it," said Des Moines resident Eric Olmscheid.

The group gathered in a silent protest to stand with those who are silenced by sexual violence.

“If somebody tells you that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, they are telling you the truth, and so to listen and to be kind and believe them," said Kerri True-Funk, associate director of IowaCASA.

Participants held signs with statistics on sexual violence, some illustrating common misconceptions.

“Sexual assault is not caused by the victim’s actions or what she is wearing or the use of drugs or alcohol. In reality, sexual assault is caused by somebody choosing to do those actions to take advantage of someone and to harm them," True- Funk said.

According to True-Funk, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

“It’s something that does need awareness and I am glad that they are spreading it here," said Ravi Shukla, a Des Moines resident.

Not only is this silent protest meant to raise awareness, but it also aims to show people who may be impacted by sexual violence that there is help.

“There is somebody here to listen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and somebody to talk to face-to-face face or over the phone," True-Funk said.

If you or someone you know is affected by sexual violence, click here for a list of resources.