PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local organizations and universities are hosting fundraisers, events and initiatives for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month during April.

According to the Center for Prevention of Abuse (CFPA) in Peoria, sexual assault occurs every 68 seconds. Every nine minutes, the victim is a child. One in six women and one in 33 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

“It affects every socioeconomic group, every culture. Abuse doesn’t discriminate… We know that it’s prevalent and we know that it’s really important for us to create social norms that prevent sexual violence, and it’s incumbent on all of us to play a role in that,” said Carol Merna, CEO of Center for Prevention of Abuse.

At Bradley University, students are encouraged to design a shirt as part of the Clothesline Project. Each shirt represents a different type of sexual violence.

“They can come and make their own shirt where they can tell their story, or they can just make a shirt where they are offering support to survivors on campus and words of encouragement,” said Dani Schenkel, assistant director of wellness and programming at Bradley University.

From April 17 to 25, the shirts will be displayed on clotheslines at the Markin Recreation Center on campus.

“I hope that students who may have had these experiences, unfortunately, may see that we as a campus really support them and we want to spread that awareness and also increase that prevention of these types of incidents,” said Schenkel.

According to Bradley’s annual security report, there were seven rape cases in 2021. That’s up from one case in 2020 and two cases in 2019.

“So we’re hoping that the ways we can offer support to them through programming, but also increase the education for our students by providing consent education, talking about different resources on campus, can hopefully help us spread that awareness on our campus and hopefully reduce those numbers that we are seeing,” said Schenkel.

Bradley also hired its first full-time Title IX coordinator in Jan. 2023, who will streamline cases of sexual violence and harassment.

 “That was a huge step for us to have one point person who is our Title IX coordinator on campus,” said Schenkel.

On Saturday, CFPA’s sixth annual ‘I Run With Survivors’ 5K run and one mile walk raised $18,000 from more than 200 teal-wearing participants. Teal is the official ribbon color signifying sexual assault.

CFPA provides therapy, counseling, emergency shelter and safety planning to survivors. All services are free and confidential.

“Someone can come to see us whether the abuse happened 30 years ago or three days ago,” said Merna.

Merna said CFPA receives more than 900 referrals per year, but have a capacity of 500 with a waiting list. In the first quarter of 2023, CFPA received 107 referrals for children.

“Our mission is to help all people live free from violence and abuse, and help find recovery and a pathway to peace,” she said.

On April 18, Bradley and CFPA are collaborating for Take Back the Night, a march through campus to show support for sexual assault prevention.

Weaver’s Restaurant is donating a portion of sales on April 26 to benefit CFPA’s sexual assault services.

You can also wear a teal ribbon all month to show support for survivors.