Thursday, December 03, 2015

Advocates fighting the stigma of reporting sexual assault and domestic violence in rural South Dakota

Fear of being exposed as a victim of sexual assault and domestic violence has led many women in South Dakota to fail to report crimes, Casey Wonnenberg reports for Keloland Television in Sioux Falls. Even if women do report the crimes, there is a serious lack of resources and facilities in rural areas to help victims, said victim turned advocate Andrea Royer.

"Currently, 40 South Dakota counties don't have local shelters for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence," writes Wonnenberg. That means rural advocates for The Network, a Sioux Falls-based organization that helps victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, travel about 85,000 miles per year to assist victims, said executive director Krista Heeren-Graber. The Network recently received a $25,000 grant, most of which will be used for travel purposes. (CNN map: South Dakota has one of the highest reports of rape, according to 2012 FBI crime estimates)

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