What are those teal ribbons downtown for?

By Patrick Yeagle

Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault is responsible for the appearance of teal ribbons in part of downtown Springfield this month. The ribbons, tied to light poles, trees and parking meters in a five-block area between the Old State Capitol and the current Illinois Statehouse, are meant to raise awareness of sexual assault and prevention.

"Sexual assault is everyone’s problem," said Shelley Vaughan, executive director of PCASA. "Maybe it affects you or someone you know."

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every 98 seconds, but only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison.

PCASA volunteers placed the teal ribbons along the route of PCASA's upcoming Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraiser as a way to start conversations about sexual assault, Vaughan says.

"To prevent it from happening, society has to be better educated, and we have to be better bystanders," she said. "If we see something that isn’t healthy, we need to intervene a bit more, and we need people to be more aware about consent."

Vaughan says sexual assault is the most under-reported crime because victims are often disbelieved or even shamed.

"We want to let victims know there is a place for them, that we'll help them," she said. "We want to make our community more compassionate."

Contact Patrick Yeagle at [email protected].

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