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Rape prevention campaign launched

November 03, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - More than 90 percent of rape victims know their assailants.

Between 70 percent and 90 percent of rapes are never reported.

Men can be raped, too.

These are just a few of the facts officials hope the public will learn through a rape and sexual assault prevention campaign recently launched by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"We want to move sex assault out of the closet," said Joyce Dantzler, deputy director for the Center for Health Promotion. "We want to get people talking."

Dantzler spoke about the campaign Thursday at the Washington County Health Department. The campaign was launched about two weeks ago.

The first statewide initiative is designed to raise awareness of the incidence of rape and sexual assault, dispel common myths and misperceptions about the violent crimes and publicize the availability of rape recovery services in the state, she said.

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The campaign, developed by Baltimore-based Sahara Communications, includes public service announcements, posters and billboards. Print media will also be used, officials said.

The $300,000 campaign is funded through a rape prevention education grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We want to dispel the myths and the misconceptions," Dantzler said.

One of the public service announcements shows two men at a bar. One of the men begins to brag about getting his date drunk so he can take advantage of her. The information that might be news to some, Dantzler said, is that taking advantage of someone who is drunk is rape.

The other information conveyed in the same service announcement is that a rapist can be someone who is close to you - a date, an ex-husband or a friend, she said.

"The rapist is not the stranger hiding in the bushes," Dantzler said. "Most of the rapists are someone you know."

The campaign also is designed to educate victims about services available to them.

Dantzler said that while conducting focus groups for the campaign, only 17 percent of rape victims knew about the services available to them.

Those services include Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused in Washington County. CASA Inc. representatives were at the launch of the rape prevention campaign Thursday.

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