April recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April 26, 2023
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center recognizes April as the 22nd annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Programs and services within the Chickasaw Nation have been developed during the last 30 years to help everyone within the Chickasaw Nation who have experienced or will experience sexual assault and domestic violence. Affecting both men and women, these services also protect dependents. Everyone within the Chickasaw Nation meeting eligibility conditions can use resources provided by the Chickasaw Nation.
"Our program is open to any victim who lives within the Chickasaw Nation," Janie Loch, violence prevention services program manager for the Chickasaw Nation, said. "Anyone, and both men and women, can use domestic violence or sexual assault services provided by the Chickasaw Nation. We also serve Chickasaw citizens living outside of the Chickasaw Nation."
Chickasaw Nation advocates are available 24 hours a day to assist victims of sexual or domestic violence. These advocates help to support victims of sexual assault and rape with medical exams, crisis intervention, criminal investigations, safety planning, transportation and emergency shelter.
"We help victims from the beginning to the end of the process," Mrs. Loch said. "We can accompany them to medical exams, sit in with them during law enforcement interviews, and basically follow them through the length of the case if they decide to prosecute. We also help with relocation, clothing and other needs if these situations occur."
The Chickasaw Nation began offering sexual assault and domestic violence services in 1994, expanding them in 2008. Emergency shelter, medical exams, counseling, relocation assistance and case management are a few of the services offered.
In 2018, the Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Center opened. It allowed the Chickasaw Nation to consolidate and expand services for men and women seeking assistance dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault situations.
"The Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Center allows victims to receive available resources in one place," Mrs. Loch said. "The administrative offices are located there, as well as counselors. It allows for more effective treatment."
In addition to short-term sexual assault and domestic violence programs, the Chickasaw Nation provides long-term support as well. Families receiving services through the Chickasaw Nation have greater access to integrated health and wellness services.
"We use a wrap-around approach to help," Mrs. Loch said. "That includes counseling and career development services. Counseling can be as long or as short as needed. Career development services help people get a job right away or help them to go to school to accomplish long-term career goals."
In addition to serving First Americans, the sexual assault and domestic violence programs administered by the Chickasaw Nation are open to everyone within Chickasaw Nation treaty territory. Services available provide safer home environments, while strengthening all Oklahoma families.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point. This statistic is higher among the First American population.
For assistance Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., call Chickasaw Nation Violence Prevention Services at (580) 272-5580. For after-hours assistance, call the toll-free hotline at (855) 405-7645.
For emergency assistance, call Chickasaw Lighthorse Police at (580) 436-9022.