Governor Hochul Issues Proclamation Designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Governor Kathy Hochul today issued a proclamation designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in New York State. In recognition, tonight, April 5, state landmarks will be illuminated in teal. The Governor also announced that a $750,000 Enough is Enough Training and Technical Assistance Center grant has been awarded to two organizations to help eradicate sexual violence on college campuses and provide crucial support services to survivors. The grant recipients are the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. To coincide with the proclamation and the grant award, the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is launching a month-long public awareness campaign titled: “Start the Conversation: New Yorkers Against Sexual Assault.”

“Eradicating sexual assault starts with changing the culture—encouraging conversations that bring the gravity of these issues to light, promoting our collective responsibility to protect others, and creating an environment that makes survivors feel safe,” Governor Hochul said. “Today, I am proud to issue a proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, invest in organizations committed to keeping our college campuses safe, and launch a statewide public awareness campaign to normalize productive engagement on these issues, and together we will continue to make major strides in protecting people and empowering survivors.”

The Enough is Enough Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Center works with rape crisis and sexual assault services programs, which then assist colleges in implementing response, training, and prevention requirements under the Enough is Enough Law, which was signed in 2015. Funded by OPDV in partnership with the State Department of Health, The TTA Center increases statewide system capacity to help end sexual violence on college campuses and provide support to survivors. Enough is Enough funded programs work to prevent campus sexual violence via educational programming with a focus on understanding root causes of gender-based violence, promoting bystander intervention, and encouraging healthy relationships. They provide student survivors with trauma-informed advocacy, counseling, case management, and safety planning services.

OPDV’s month-long awareness campaign—”Start the Conversation: New Yorkers Against Sexual Assault”—will utilize Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to highlight the prevalence, severity, and long-lasting impact of sexual violence, the importance of promoting an open dialogue on sexual violence, and productive ways for individuals to engage on the issue. Additionally, the agency will host a panel discussion on masculinity and the role that men play in ending sexual assault on college campuses. This panel fits into Sexual Assault Awareness Month, while also intersecting with a broader, year-long campaign designed to engage and enlist men and boys in the effort to end gender-based violence. Finally, OPDV is launching a series of Sexual Violence 101 training for the general public. More information about this month’s activities can be found here.

State landmarks to be illuminated include:

  • One World Trade Center
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
  • Kosciuszko Bridge
  • The H.Carl McCall SUNY Building
  • State Education Building
  • Alfred E Smith State Office Building
  • Empire State Plaza
  • State Fairgrounds – Main Gate & Expo Center
  • Niagara Falls
  • The “Franklin D. Roosevelt” Mid-Hudson Bridge
  • Grand Central Terminal – Pershing Square Viaduct
  • Albany International Airport Gateway
  • The Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex
  • MTA LIRR – East End Gateway at Penn Station
  • Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens said, “It takes all of us to end sexual violence, but we must first acknowledge how prevalent it is. We must start the conversation about what we can all do as individuals to support survivors and eradicate gender-based violence. Thank you Governor Hochul, for proclaiming April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and telling survivors that New York is here to support them.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T Bassett said, “I thank Governor Hochul for taking action to acknowledge April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and its importance as a public health issue. New funding for training and a support center highlights commitment to this issue. In partnership with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, our Enough is Enough program will focus on preventing sexual violence on college campuses through education in the root causes of gender-based violence.”

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “We thank Governor Hochul for her commitment to ensuring that victims of sexual assault in New York State get the services they need and deserve. We are proud to join the state’s efforts to provide services to victims and shine the spotlight on the need for support, on and off campus.”

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rosanna Rosado said, “We at DCJS are proud of the work we do to administer critical state and federal funding to rape crisis programs and services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. We also distribute sexual offense evidence collection kits to hospitals and other providers at no This ensures that evidence is preserved if and when an individual decides to make a report to law enforcement. We appreciate Governor Hochul’s continued leadership on this important issue and look forward to continuing to work with our partner agencies to support survivors.”

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Joanne Zannoni said, “As we recognize this Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, I am grateful for the progress being made at the highest levels of government, such as the recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. I’m also grateful for the efforts of Governor Hochul , and New York State policymakers, who have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring sexual assault survivors receive the services they need to heal. Sexual violence remains an epidemic, impacting every demographic, and eliminating this harm will take all of us.”

New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Emily Miles said, “As we enter Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we reflect on the more than one in three women and one in four men who experience sexual violence in their lifetime. The profound impact of sexual violence affects all communities, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or ability.We must work together to support all survivors with trauma-informed, survivor-centered services and to strengthen efforts to prevent sexual violence in the future.The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault is proud to stand with Governor Hochul as we work to raise awareness about the impact of sexual violence on all communities and to provide training, education, and resources about how to prevent it.”

In July 2015, New York established Enough is Enough to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking on college campuses. Enough is Enough was one of the first laws in the country to require: All colleges to adopt a set of comprehensive procedures and guidelines; A uniform definition of affirmative consent; A statewide amnesty policy for bystanders or victims who report sexual assault; and a student’s bill of rights. The Enough is Enough grant program was created in 2015 to support NYS Rape Crisis Programs to support colleges with implementing the legal requirements and provide support to survivors on college campuses.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is the country’s only executive level state agency dedicated to the issue of domestic violence. The state’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 in most languages: 800-942-6906 (call), 844-997-2121 (text) or at opdv.ny.gov (chat). Start the conversation is OPDV’s year-long campaign to fight the epidemic of gender-based violence by asking the community to actively engage in conversations about tough issues.

The Office of Victim Services funds a network of more than 200 programs statewide that assist victims and survivors of crime and their family members. Visit ovs.ny.gov/connect to learn more about the services available. In addition, the agency directly reimburses medical providers for forensic rape examinations (FREs) if victims of sexual assault do not have access to private health insurance or chose not to use their private health care insurance for the examination. This measure is an exception to the agency’s payer of last resort rule and provides for the personal privacy of individuals.

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