BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – Every April, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho join survivors, advocates and communities nationwide in observing Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

The office said sexual violence is far too prevalent, and it is important to not only raise awareness of the myriad forms of sexual violence, but to engage in meaningful prevention efforts, take action to hold offenders accountable, and care for survivors in a trauma-informed manner.

U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. joins the Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) in applauding the recent passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022), which treats sexual assault as the serious violation it is and creates new programs and initiatives that provide survivors of sexual violence with increased access to services and justice.

One such program is the Violence Against Women Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) program, which cross-designates tribal prosecutors as SAUSAs to support tribes and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in investigating and prosecuting cases involving sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and certain sex trafficking offenses. VAWA 2022 also expands outreach to survivors in underserved communities by improving access to sexual assault medical forensic examinations for survivors in rural areas, providing community-specific services for LGBT survivors, and restoring tribes’ jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of sexual violence and sex trafficking, among certain other offenses committed on tribal lands.

“This year, as we in Idaho recognize Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we again commit to the victims of sexual assault that we will do everything in our power to support and deliver justice to them,” U.S. Attorney Gonzalez said. “Sexual assault victims are not alone, we in the law enforcement community stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Absolutely no one should live in fear of being sexually assaulted or of being retaliated against for reporting a sexual assault.”

“During Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and every month, OVW-funded programs across the nation provide essential services to survivors of sexual assault, responding to their needs, helping them heal, and supporting them as they pursue the justice they seek,” OVW Principal Deputy Director Allison Randall said. “The impact of sexual violence is felt by the entire community and can devastate survivors’ lives, which is why it is critical that VAWA 2022 strengthens not just services and justice interventions but also prevention.” 

If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced sexual violence, you are not alone and there are many services available to help, including the Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), and the StrongHearts Native Helpline, 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483). In addition, you can find a local resources page on OVW’s website, which lists state sexual assault coalitions that can direct you to local resources and services, as well as opportunities to get involved.

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