Ride On Bus Ad Campaign Educates Residents About Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault; Ads Highlight Availability of Forensic Exams

For Immediate Release: Friday, December 3, 2021

The County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in collaboration with Shady Grove Adventist Hospital’s Forensic Unit, is sponsoring Ride On bus and bikeshare kiosk ads to educate residents about services available for victims of sexual assault. Shady Grove Hospital is the County’s partner in providing forensic exams to sexual assault and domestic violence victims

Although sexual assault forensic exams (SAFE) have been available for several years, there has been a decrease in victims receiving this vital exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the SAFE campaign is to educate the community and reach victims, so they know professionals and trained sexual assault outreach volunteers are available 24/7 to help after a traumatic assault. Ads for the SAFE campaign can be seen throughout the community and will run for several months.

“No one should have to experience the trauma of being sexually assaulted,” said Dr. Rolando Santiago, chief of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services at DHHS. “We know it is hard to know what to do after a sexual assault or intimate partner violent event, but a victim’s safety and health are vitally important. For any victim, our message is simple – healing is possible, and help is here.”

Every 68 seconds in the United States, a person is the victim of a sexual assault; and nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by their intimate partner. The are many benefits in obtaining a forensic exam by a trained forensic nurse to address a crime victim’s physical needs, collect evidence and document injuries. Additionally, the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program’s (VASAP) sexual assault outreach volunteers can link survivors to the local rape crisis center, domestic violence program, and police if requested for help.

For assistance seven days a week, 24 hours daily, call the County’s VASAP at 240-777-4357 (240-777-HELP) to request a sexual assault outreach volunteer when receiving an exam at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Maryland. Visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/vasap for more information on VASAP services.

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