Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

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Summer is almost here and for those living with domestic violence, this could be a reason to worry. Studies suggest that as the weather gets warmer, domestic violence rates tend to increase.

This story includes descriptions of sexual assault.

This week the Casper Star-Tribune broke a story about a lawsuit against the Albany County Sheriff's Office, over the alleged mishandling of a sexual assault investigation. Wyoming Public Radio has an interview with the plaintiff, as well as audio of the law enforcement interview at the heart of the complaint.


Tennessee Watson

This is the second in a two-part series on this issue. To hear WPR Reporter Melodie Edward's story, click here.

Last year, Wyoming enacted legislation authorizing school districts to teach child sexual abuse prevention. Schools have a unique power to stop sexual abuse because kids spend so much time there. But the bill is not a mandate. It merely says school districts may do prevention work.

As stories continue to surface from survivors of sexual violence so do questions about how to reduce the rate at which assault happens. The Equality State Policy Center is hoping to help empower Wyomingites to seek solutions by offering a one day workshop called SHAPE #metoo.

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Advocates for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are marking some big wins after this year’s legislative session. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Tara Muir, the public policy director for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, who has been characterizing this session as "The Year of the Survivor."

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has now signed into law several bills dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. Advocates at the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault are mostly pleased with lawmakers’ efforts.

graphic elements from erinslaw.org with modifications by Tennessee Watson

Survivors of child sexual abuse and advocates testified before the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. They urged lawmakers to support the implementation of Erin’s Law in Wyoming. The legislation first passed in Illinois following the advocacy of survivor Erin Merryn, and has now passed in a total of 31 states.

 

Graphic by Tennessee Watson

Students are required to do fire drills and tornado drills, yet Wyoming does not require public schools to do sexual assault prevention. Young people are more likely to be impacted by sexual violence than they are by any of those dangers. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.

 

Cut It Out program

Last year, Illinois passed legislation that requires cosmetologists to receive domestic abuse prevention training as part of their licensing process. Many people form strong bonds with their hair stylist. Now Wyoming is interested in turning to cosmetologists for help spotting abuse in a similar way.

Newsday.com

Wyoming ranks number one in the nation in gun-related deaths. That’s according to a new report from the Violence Policy Center. While the national average is just over ten deaths per 100,000 people, Wyoming has more than twice that beating out states like Louisiana, Alaska and Mississippi. The report shows that most western nations like the United Kingdom have rates of less than one death 100,000 people.