Dickinson County Caring House creates ‘community policy’ to publicly show support for sexual assault survivors
Seven community partners consisting of law enforcement, the Dickinson County Prosecutor’s Office and Marshfield Medical Center Dickinson gathered at the Caring House in Kingsford to show their commitment to sexual assault survivors
KINGSFORD, Mich. (WLUC) - Seven community partners consisting of law enforcement, the Dickinson County Prosecutor’s Office, and Marshfield Medical Center Dickinson gathered at the Caring House in Kingsford to show support for sexual assault survivors.
Each group signed a “community policy,” committing to be a resource for survivors.
“We want to make sure that those victims that haven’t reported know that there is help out there,” said Aaron Rochon, Dickinson County Undersheriff. “They can come to us, they can come straight to the Caring House. We will get them the services that they need.”
The Caring House is best-known for its domestic violence support, but it also helps those who survive sexual assault.
“We meet monthly and go through all of the calls law enforcement has received to assess if all victims are getting what they need from our system in the community,” said Cheryl O’Neil, Caring House executive director.
O’Neil said one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted.
“What we fear is the unreported cases too,” Rochon said.
Last year, the Caring House helped 290 survivors of sexual assault. O’Neil said that number has increased. She said it is not because more crimes are being committed but because more survivors are speaking up.
“It has not always been overlooked as it has in the past,” O’Neil said. “Survivors are being believed. It is safe for them to come and say that this has happened to me.”
The policy of community support does not change the way these agencies respond to a sexual assault, but O’Neil said she hopes this gives survivors the public resources necessary to come forward.
The seven participating community partners were; Dickinson County Sheriff, Iron Mountain Police, Kingsford Public Safety, Michigan State Police, Norway Police Department, Marshfield Medical Center Dickinson and the Dickinson County Prosecutor’s Office.
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