Victim Services Center of Montgomery County to kick off sexual assault awareness month on April 3
Confirmed speakers include State Senator Katie Muth, Kristen M. Gibbons Feden, Esq., and Suzanne V. Estrella, Pennsylvania’s victim advocate.
(Norristown, PA) – April is sexual assault awareness month, and Victim Services Center of Montgomery County (VSC) will hold a press conference on April 3 to show support for survivors.
“Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault, yet it is often the victim who wrongfully lives with the burden of shame,” said Kristen M. Gibbons Feden, who litigates sexual abuse claims on behalf of survivors and serves as VSC’s board president. “This event will help show survivors that they are not alone, and that people in Montgomery County support their healing.”
Remarks will begin at 12:30 PM at the Montgomery County Courthouse, which will be lit in teal for the month of April to raise awareness about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The public is welcome to attend the event at 12:30, show support for survivors, and learn about VSC services. In the evening, everyone is welcome to return to see the courthouse illuminated in teal.
About the Speakers
State Senator Katie Muth serves Pennsylvania’s Senate’s 44th District, representing Montgomery, Chester and Berks Counties. Senator Muth is among the Pennsylvania Democrats calling for swift and bipartisan passage of HB1 and HB2, which would open a window to justice for survivors of child sexual abuse. (Download a photo of Katie Muth)
Kristen M. Gibbons Feden, Esq., a partner at Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky Trial Lawyers, is one of the nation’s leading litigators in the field of sexual abuse and civil rights. She began her work with victims as a prosecutor in Montgomery County, where she served as captain of the Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Units and member of the Sex Crimes Unit. In that role, she successfully litigated scores of cases to verdict, including trials involving sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, and homicide.
Suzanne V. Estrella the Commonwealth Victim Advocate, is a victims' rights attorney with over 30 years of legal experience including 15 years of legal advocacy serving survivors of crime in Pennsylvania. Suzanne was appointed to the Office of Victim Advocate by Governor Wolf and unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate in 2021. (Download an image of Suzanne V. Estrella.)
Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault are widespread problems. In the United States alone, nearly one in five women and one in 67 men have been raped at some time in their lives, and one in four girls and one in twenty boys is sexually abused by the age of 17. More than 1,000 survivors of sexual assault received help from VSC last year, including in-person accompaniments to Montgomery County hospitals for rape kit exams.
Prevention is possible
Sexual assault is a preventable form of violence. “The first step is to proclaim loudly and boldly that everyone has the right to feel safe,” said Jessica Carson, VSC’s education supervisor, who provides trainings for people ages 5+. “Prevention means teaching boundaries when kids are young. It means teaching respect. It means teaching what healthy relationships look like so that eventually, one day, the person who has received that training knows what consent is and is not.” Last year, VSC’s education team provided 394 prevention and awareness programs to schools, colleges, universities, senior centers, and institutions reaching 7,997 recipients. If you would like to schedule an education program with VSC, send an email to Jessica-Carson@vscmontcopa.org.
VSC provides advocacy and counseling for all who have been affected by sexual violence and other crimes against the person and promotes sensitivity and awareness in the community through prevention education. Founded in 1974 as Women Against Rape, VSC has been supporting survivors and their families for 49 years. Victim Services of Montgomery County, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All VSC services, including counseling, therapy, support groups, and in-person accompaniments, are provided at no cost to victims of crime and their loved ones. Call our free, 24-hour hotline at 1-888-521-0983 to speak with a counselor now or visit our website to request a callback from our staff.
To learn more about this event, contact Jessica Carson, CA, VSC’s community outreach education programs supervisor at Jessica-Carson@vscmontcopa.org.