Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Every 98 seconds, another sexual assault occurs according to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.

In recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness month, the Ocean County Library along with the Ocean County Health Department, the Ocean County Advisory Commission on the Status of Women and the Long Beach Island Health Department, have partnered to host an interactive program focusing on sexual assault prevention for all ages. The program, entitled Sexual Assault: Engaging New Voices, is scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington St., here.

"This program will help raise awareness and provide important information for families and survivors," said Freeholder Virginia E. "Ginny" Haines, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Advisory Commission on the Status of Women. "I want to thank all the agencies involved and the Ocean County Library for hosting this program. Knowledge is one of the greatest tools we can have when it comes to our safety and protecting those we love."

The forum is aimed at survivors and their families, and will provide information on sexual assault prevention, accessible resources and people who are available for advice. It will also explore legal consequences, incorporating safe behaviors and healthy relationships.

Speakers include Ocean County Prosecutor's Office SART Coordinator Donna Verlardi, St. Francis Counseling Service Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention Coordinator Breanne Gesicki, and Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Community Relations Officer Rory Wells. Gold Hawks Martial Arts instructor Chris Antonucci will perform a self-defense demonstration at the close of the program.

"These excellent speakers will discuss how we can promote and model healthy attitudes, behaviors and relationships, how to listen to victims and assist them in finding needed resources," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who also serves as liaison to the Ocean County Library.

"The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, and the other agencies participating, offer great resources to the community," said Freeholder John P. Kelly, who serves as Director of Law and Public Safety.

All the agencies involved take a proactive approach to raising awareness and educating the community on a host of important topics.

"We do not want to see our young people in a position where they feel they cannot discuss this issue, especially if they are a victim of sexual assault," said Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Health Department. "This program provides an opportunity to start a very important dialogue."

The program is free but registration is appreciated by April 18. To register call 732-506-5374 or visit www.theoceancountylibrary.org

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