Numerous local organizations are teaming up to shed light on sexual assaults with a series of events planned throughout April.

Officials say they are aiming to break down barriers for victims by focusing on resources and support available locally during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott says sexual assault cases are some of the most difficult to prove in the criminal justice system.

Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott

“Because the typical case is one person’s word against another. But there is much more that we can do beyond the criminal justice system. With respect to education, with providing assistance to individuals. Because it’s the collateral consequences of the act outside of the criminal justice system that really has an affect not only on the victim, but as society as a whole.”

National statistics show that a sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds and nearly one in five women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime.

“It’s something that ends up being a traumatic event that sometimes the criminal justice system can’t help with that. But the community partners that are involved with these types of situations can help with.”

The partnerships include the Zonta Club of Mankato, CADA, Minnesota State University- Mankato Women’s Center, Project for Teens, Minnesota State University Athletics, Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, area Law Enforcement and the Blue Earth County Attorney’s Office.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports more than 90-percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the incident. Officials say fear of retaliation for victims often leads them to not report an assault.

“Whether it’s traffic, or whether it’s personal, or sexual assaults, it happens around us all the time. Many times we’re just not aware of it. What we deal with and what we see and what CADA deals with, that’s one of the driving forces. They’re dealing with it, we’re dealing with it and if we can just make sure that people understand and know that it’s out there. Because it does happen all of the time.”

Some of the planned events to highlight sexual assault in April include Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on April 22, Take Back the Night on April 24 and Denim Day on April 25.

To view the complete list of events, head to http://www.mnsu.edu/varp/events.html.