Central New York, Community, Education, Non-profit

The Importance of Speaking Up Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Vera House intern, Jennifer Lopiccolo's, illustrates the importance of speaking up against sexual and domestic violence. (c) 2017 Ashley Burroughs

By Ashley Burroughs SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS): A social media movement with the hashtag MeToo has become a platform to encourage sexual assault victims to talk about their personal experience and how they are getting over it.

This hashtag started when actress, Alyssa Milano, posted a screenshot saying “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

“It is raising awareness and shedding some light that some many women have been sexual assaulted during their life time,” Vera House intern, Jennifer Lopiccolo said.

Vera House is a non-profit organization located in Syracuse that provides a variety of services for domestic and sexual violence victims these include:

  • Shelter
  • Counseling
  • Support Groups

This organization educates the community especially students about consent as well as prevention of assault and domestic violence.

These educational program promotes the importance of victims using their voice to speak up. In 2016 Vera House has provided 3,164 therapy sessions to:

  • 608 adults
  • 516 children

During these individual counseling session, some victims even blame themselves for what has happened to them.

“Narcissism is going up in society and empathy is going down. I would say with certain correlations like that violence is definitely rising. It is often really hidden in our society so we need to come forth and talk about it,” Lopiccolo said.

Vera House’s Advocacy Programs have helped over 1,000 people dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse.

In 2016, Syracuse Police Department has answered 10,963 calls that were related to domestic violence.

“It doesn’t have a specific socioeconomic status; it doesn’t have a specific race or gender or age. Abuse is abuse,” Lopiccolo said.

Vera House has services and programs for all ages who have been dealing with assault and want to get help.

In Onondaga County, seven out of ten people who experience domestic and sexual violence know the perpetrator.

“Emotional abuse and manipulation can go quite far before it becomes physical in any relationship. Anybody that is abused it is not their fault, ” Lopiccolo said.

Vera House has 24-Hour Crisis and Support Hotline that provides assistance for victims and their families that are going through sexual and domestic violence.