Hays County Commissioners Court Proclaims April as Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month
Public invited to April 26 candlelight vigil for victims and survivors
Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – At its Tuesday meeting, the Hays County Commissioners Court asked residents to be aware of and help prevent sexual assault, and proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“We do our best to work with law enforcement agencies, our justice system and our nonprofits that are on the front line fighting these atrocities,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley said before welcoming Melissa Rodriguez, Director of Community Partnerships with the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center (HCWC), to address the court.
Rodriguez told the court that while the topic of sexual assault and sexual violence is not a pleasant one to discuss, “it is clearly relevant to every community member in Hays County. Unfortunately, our numbers increase each year.”
In 2016 the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center provided direct services to 509 adult victims of sexual assault in the two counties; 370 of them were from Hays County. Some two in five women and one in five men – people of all races, ages and socio-economic groups – in Texas have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
“One of our biggest programs is a prevention education program in our schools,” Rodriguez said. “It’s important to get to young people to hopefully break the cycle of this violence.”
Calling the HCWC “a true asset to our community,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant noted that he had the opportunity to visit the HCWC recently and was impressed with the number and types of services the non-profit organization offers. “It’s not just a women’s center,” he said. In addition to youth and adult education, the HCWC operates an emergency shelter for women and children, a counseling and resource center for victims of family violence and sexual assault, a special program for child victims of sexual assault and a 24-hour confidential phone line for crisis counseling and information for victims.
Rodriguez invited the public to a candlelight vigil to honor victims of sexual assault and bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence. It will be held at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Hays County Courthouse grounds, 111 E. San Antonio St., San Marcos.
Anyone who is a victim of abuse or suspects the abuse of another person should report it to 9-1-1 if there is immediate danger or call 512-396-4357 (HELP) in Hays County for more information about available services.
Left to right, County Judge Bert Cobb, M.D., Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones, Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, Hays County Women’s Center Director of Community Partnerships Melissa Rodriguez and Executive Director Marla Johnson, Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley, Sheriff Gary Cutler, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant following the Court’s proclamation of April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in Hays County.