Grant Aids Rape Victims Money Planned for Education

Article excerpt

Separating fact from fiction will soon become easier for

Jacksonville rape prevention advocates, thanks to a state grant.

Officials with the city's Victim Services Division announced

this week the award of the three-year, $93,250 annual grant from

the Florida Department of Health. The grant will fund rape

prevention and education efforts.

Funding begins April 1. Jacksonville received the third-largest

such award in the state.

The Children's Crisis Center, which will manage the money, will

hire a coordinator to work with schools, government and

non-profit agencies to educate students, the public and

professionals about rape.

"We know that based on presentations that we do, and hot line

calls that we get, that people still suffer from perceiving rape

as a crime of passion or are very caught up in the myths of

sexual assaults," said Debbi Thomas, program manager of Victim

Services' sexual assault program.

"The facts are that rape is [a] crime of violence, not a crime

of passion," Thomas said. "A rapist is looking for a vulnerable

victim. It has nothing to do with her clothing, how short her

skirt is or where she chooses to go."

Lee Ann Summersgill, a rape victim who agreed to be named, said

the biggest weapon against sexual assault is education.

"We need to be educating as early as we can to try to break

some myths about hwhat rape is about," she said. "You can't

really determine a rapist by their characteristics."

Though there are some red flags women can look for in

preventing rapes, they don't determine who will be a rapist and

who won't, Summersgill said. …