Supporting survivors and raising awareness


WILMINGTON — During Wednesday morning’s meeting, the Clinton County Commissioners presented the Alternatives to Violence Center with a proclamation in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Accepting the proclamation were director Dara Gullette alongside team members Kimberly Lute, Amber Schiller, and Madi Saunders, a newly-introduced staff member.

The proclamation, declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, underscores the imperative of addressing sexual violence within the community. Gullette expressed gratitude for the recognition and highlighted the center’s ongoing efforts to support survivors and raise awareness.

In addition to the proclamation, Gullette provided insights into upcoming events organized by the center. Notably, they are co-hosting a training session at the Hillsboro Municipal Court on May 10 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., in collaboration with the forensic nursing network. This training aims to equip prosecutors, advocates, nurses, and law enforcement personnel with updated knowledge on rape kits, strangulation laws, and better serving sexual assault victims. Of particular significance is a mock trial demonstration, allowing nurses and law enforcement officers to witness the legal proceedings of a sexual assault case firsthand.

Commissioner president Mike McCarty emphasized the importance of raising awareness and supporting survivors, saying, “We have a proclamation because we want to bring awareness to this and try to help the cause, and help people understand what you guys are doing and that there are resources out there to help with this.”

The proclamation itself addresses the multifaceted nature of sexual violence and the commitment of the Alternatives to Violence Center to increase public awareness and provide support services. It recognizes the partnerships formed with various agencies and professionals in the quest to prevent and address sexual violence effectively.

During the meeting, the commissioners participated in a gesture by trying on red heels, signifying solidarity with victims. When asked about the experience, McCarty expressed feeling “dirty and embarrassed,” echoing the sentiments of many survivors. Gullette explained that the exercise aimed to evoke empathy for victims who may feel similarly apprehensive and vulnerable.

“They might feel dirty, uneasy, or scared to take a step,” explained Gullette.

For those interested in learning more about the Alternatives to Violence Center and their initiatives, including upcoming events and ways to get involved, please visit its website at or reach out to the center directly.

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