Governor Albert Bryan Jr., seated, signs a proclamation declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month as members of the V.I. Sexual Assault Response Team look on.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. showed his support for sexual assault prevention efforts in the territory during a proclamation signing ceremony at the Arthur Abel Complex in Frederiksted last week. The proclamation, which officially recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, raises public awareness and educates the community on what sexual violence is and how to prevent it. The theme for 2019 is “I Ask,” championing the idea that consent is a normal, healthy and necessary part of everyday interactions.

During the ceremony, the V.I. Sexual Assault Response Team, an initiative spearheaded by the V.I. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council and made possible by the commitment of multiple agencies, also officiated their commitment to a coordinated response for survivors through a symbolic signing of an Interagency Memorandum of Understanding.

To close the series of events in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the response team, alongside Governor Bryan, recognized Dahlia Stridiron-Felix, Director of Counseling Services at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas Campus, with the Visionary Voice Award for the Virgin Islands territory. The awards, offered by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center each April, recognize the creativity and hard work of individuals around the country who have demonstrated outstanding work to end sexual violence. Stridiron-Felix is an active member of the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC) and coordinates all of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month (and Domestic Violence Awareness Month) activities on campus.

According to Khnuma Simmonds, Executive Director of DVSAC, ‘Dahlia engages students, is genuinely passionate about the cause, and is a positive example of what a marriage between advocacy, education, and awareness looks like. DVSAC could not do our work without her and the V.I. SART is fortunate to have her as an ally as we continue our multi-disciplinary, territory-wide initiatives to support survivors!’