Organization puts up sexual assault education display

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SPRINGETTSBURY TWP., Pa. -- A powerful display in York County showed how many girls are victims of sexual assault.

The Turning Point Women's Counseling and Advocacy Center opened in November of 2012 and helps women and teenage girls who are victims of sexual abuse.

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, they put up 100 wooden cutouts on their lawn. One out of every four cutouts is painted teal to represent the one in four girls who will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

Sarah Snowden, an art therapist for the center, said, "We want to get people talking about sexual abuse. We want to create an environment where people feel comfortable coming forward and sharing their stories because that is the best path to healing."

The trauma a victim goes through isn't kept in the logical part of a victim's brain.

Snowden said, "At the end of the day, what happened to these victims didn't make sense at all, so it's really hard to wrap words around that."

So the center also provides art and music therapy to help victims cope.

Jillian Tolman, a music therapist, said, "Healing is possible. It takes time and it takes work, but we are here to support you and help you through that process."

Even though the center focuses mostly on women and girls, they aren't the only victims of sexual abuse.

Amber Wagman, a licensed social worker, said, "The thing is sexual violence doesn't discriminate by age, by gender, by sexuality, by religion, by race. It affects everyone. So while our display here is highlighting the facts that it's one in four girls, it's one in six boys."

More than 90 percent of abusers are people the victim knows. The center, in addition to therapy, offers education for people about sexual abuse.

"Sexual abuse lives in secrecy, and so if we aren't keeping it a secret anymore, hopefully we will be able to prevent it," Wagman said.

The wood for the cutouts was donated by Home Depot, Resource York donated the paint, and Signs by Tomorrow donated the signs.