April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In an effort to raise awareness, Northeastern Center will host its’ second annual ‘Break the Silence’ event on April 26th at 6 P.M.; at the LaGrange County Courthouse. All proceeds from the event will go towards funding transportation for sexual assault victims to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center in Fort Wayne. To register for the event, or make a donation, please go to

This event will begin with a short walk around the courthouse, and will include: a ‘what were you wearing?’ art instillation, and special guest speaker Elizabeth Hilty.

According to, every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and every 9 minutes that victim is a child. 1 out of every 6 American women, and 1 in 33 American men has been the victim of an attempted of completed assault in their lifetime. It is also estimated that 63,000 children a year are victims of sexual abuse.

These statistics are alarming, and Northeastern Center is working to use its’ ‘Break the Silence’ event to bring awareness, advocacy and support to those in our communities who are victims of, or know someone who is a victim of, sexual assault.

Nicole Johnson-Smith, is the heart and soul of this event, and had this to say regarding what she hopes ‘Break the Silence’ will do for the community:

“With April being sexual assault awareness month, we are reaching out to engage our community in taking a stand against sexual assault and hoping to provide safe spaces for those impacted. We want to stand up for victims and survivors, publicly. Through education, validation and support, it is our hope that more victims will find a voice and begin their healing, ultimately recognizing that they are survivors.”

Annie Fleck, the Victim’s Assistance Director at the LaGrange County Prosecutor’s Office, had this to say regarding Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the ‘Break the Silence’ event:

“The devastating psychological effects sexual assault has on victims is reason enough to draw attention to this wide reaching social problem. Providing services for survivors, especially child survivors, is crucial in breaking the cycle that both creates victims and perpetrators and enforces a culture that devalues the victim. We need to work together, men and women, to end this cycle of abuse by believing the victim, getting them the services they need to heal and by teaching future generations respect for all livings things and equality amid all persons.”

Special thanks to our community partners who have helped to make this event possible: Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center, Inc., LaGrange County Department of Child Services, Tri Kappa Mu, LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department, LaGrange County Prosecutor’s Office, The Bowen Center, Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center, and SCAN.