April Recognized as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 16, 2024

Community Ambassadors Honored at Commissioners Meeting

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners declared April 2024 National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at a meeting last week, when Commissioners Director Christine Myers presented a framed proclamation to members of Atlantic Health System’s Behavioral Health Team for their work to provide outreach and support to victims through the Morris County Sexual Assault Center. 

“More than half of all women and nearly one-third of all men in America have experienced sexual violence according to statistics released this year by the White House,” said Myers. “And let’s not forget about the children who are victimized and who many times are nameless. It can happen anywhere, to anyone, and the trauma is life-changing for victims. National Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves as a critical reminder that sexual assault is a serious societal issue that requires collective action and commitment to create a safer world where everyone can feel protected.”

Kerri Bossardet-West, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Manager of Atlantic Behavioral Health, and Sherry Aitchinson, Licensed Professional Counselor of the Morris County Sexual Assault Center at Atlantic Behavioral Health, accepted the proclamation.

“We want to thank the Commissioners for once again acknowledging Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Month,” said Aitchinson. “And to let people know that we are here, and we are available. Our hotline is open 24/7; we don’t want victims to suffer in silence. This is a free service in Morris County, and we want everyone to spread the word.” 

Sexual abuse can happen almost anywhere, whether at work, home, school, other public places—or even online—to virtually anyone, regardless of geography, race, age, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or economic and social background. The trauma of sexual abuse is life-changing for victims and can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, among other physical and emotional impacts.

“We have seen an increase in sexual violence after the pandemic, so your support for the Morris County Sexual Assault Center under Atlantic Health System is very important,” said Bossardet-West. “Thank you for getting the word out that we are here to serve the victims of sexual assault.”

Members of the Morris County Sexual Assault Center will be at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum on Wednesday, April 17 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for an outreach event featuring speakers, community resources, music, food trucks and more. Learn more about the event here.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, please call the Atlantic Behavioral Health Sexual Assault Program Hotline: 973-829-0587. Confidential support and crisis counseling provided by a professional therapist are available around the clock, every day.

Advocates, certified forensic nurses and specially trained law enforcement investigators of Atlantic Health’s Sexual Assault Response Team are available to address the medical, emotional and legal needs of survivors 13 years of age and up who are in acute crisis and have been sexually assaulted within a five-day period.

Please visit the Atlantic Behavioral Health website for more information on the Morris County Sexual Assault Center.