YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday that over $1.4 million in grant money will be given to Ohio crisis centers in an effort to provide support for sexual assault victims.
The grant money will go to 28 centers, including COMPASS Family & Community Services in Youngstown. Each will get over $45,000 that will be used to offer victims the support they need so more come forward to report their attackers.
“Our goal is to try to get more people and better services for rape victims, no matter where they live in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said.
Local leaders say currently, the number of people raped is significantly under-reported. As an advocate for victims, DeWine says we owe it to survivors of sexual assault to make sure they have community support after an attack.
“Many times victims are embarrassed and they really, just really don’t want to report it, but there has to be consequences for the person who commits the rape because that person many times will go on and continue to commit rape unless that person is stopped.”
Dawn Powell, a rape crisis counselor at COMPASS Family & Community Services, says it is common for victims to refuse to come forward or press charges in rape or sexual assault investigations. She says they often feel like nothing will happen even if they come forward.
Both Powell and DeWine want victims to feel they are safe and free of the stigma that often comes with sexual assault when they enter a community crisis center.
“Having good victim service increases the likelihood that cases are reported and it increases the likelihood that there is a successful prosecution,” DeWine said.
“There are services for them. There is help all the way through this process,” Powell said.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, you’re encouraged to call police. You can also contact the COMPASS Rape Crisis and Counseling Center for support via its 24-hour hotline at 330-782-3936.