April marks sexual assault awareness and prevention month

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen reminds Wisconsin residents that April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, during which time we recommit ourselves to standing against crimes of sexual violence by supporting survivors, holding offenders accountable and working toward prevention of sexual assault in our communities. On Tuesday, April 8th, the Department of Justice State Prosecutors Education and Training (SPET) program together with the Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor (VAWRP) program and with assistance from the Office of Crime Victim Services (OCVS) began a four-day trial advocacy training for prosecutors from across the state. This week’s training will focus on providing prosecutors with the tools to successfully prosecute sexual assault trials, from the first meeting with a victim to the last word of the closing arguments.

“In addition to providing the latest in specialized trial skills training, this event brings prosecutors together with victim services specialists, community advocates, specialized sexual assault nurse examiners and child advocacy professionals -- all of whom must work together in order to support victims and hold sex offenders accountable for their actions,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “Advanced trial skills plus integrated teamwork is the equation for successfully convicting sex offenders.”

The training runs from Tuesday, April 8th through Friday April 11th, from 8:15 am to 5:00 pm at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel in Oshkosh.

Sexual assault can devastate survivors, often leaving them to cope with the effects of the trauma they have experienced such as depression, fear, suicidal feelings and long-lasting health problems. Unfortunately, too many victims will struggle to cope with these challenges, as crimes of sexual violence and abuse affect thousands of men, women and children in our state each year.

The Department of Justice will work further to raise awareness this month by participating in Denim Day on April 23rd. The Denim Day tradition of wearing denim in solidarity with victims of sexual assault began in response to an Italian court ruling overturning a rape conviction because the judge believed that the victim’s jeans were so tight that the perpetrator could not have removed them without her assistance. On April 16th, the DOJ’s Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor will provide special lunch-time training for prosecutors highlighting recent developments in sexual assault prosecutions.