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DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: April 26, 2017


DOVER (April 26, 2017) - Though the number of reported sexual assaults has decreased by 63 percent over the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, every minute and a half a man, woman or child still becomes a victim of sexual violence. In Delaware, 137 rapes were reported by law enforcement in 2015, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report. But it is estimated that the self-reported prevalence of rape is approximately three times higher and minority populations are at even greater risk for being victimized.

In observance of April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the Division of Public Health (DPH), Bureau of Health Equity Rape Prevention and Education Program, Delaware State University and the Sexual Assault Network of Delaware, recently held a conference for community members and service representatives as a way to engage them in conversations regarding the effect of violence on minority populations in Delaware. The purpose was to hear the voices of the many diverse populations who are at a high risk of victimization and how they have managed and prevented violence within their community.

The program included three panel sessions. One featured student and faculty representatives of Delaware State University regarding sexual assaults on college campuses, a second included a speaker from CAMP Rehoboth discussing sexual violence in the LGTBQ community and in the third, Chief Natosha Carmine of the Nanticoke Indian Tribe discussed the issue in the Native American community. Each discussed how the population they represent is more adversely impacted by violence than the general population.

DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay shared one example of services provided by the state, is the DPH Bureau of Health Equity's management of the Rape Prevention and Education grant from the CDC. A portion provides statewide training on prevention techniques and builds capacity around state violence prevention efforts, such as the conference.

Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker discussed the importance of prevention efforts vs treatment in this area. "The current social, economic, and political context suggests that population health will continue to worsen, as will health inequities, if we do not move further upstream with our health promotion efforts. Much of what drives our ability to be healthy and to thrive is tied to things that are not within the scope of health care. Where we live, what type of educational opportunities we have, how much money we are able to make, who we hang out with, and what we learned from our parents in terms of eating habits, exercise habits, and healthy relationships really set the stage for what our quality of life will look like over time." Secretary Walker said DHSS has focused many social services and clinical assets, as well as addiction and mental health assets, in communities identified as having the greatest opportunities for improvement.

She then read Governor John Carney's proclamation of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Delaware in which he encouraged Delawareans to engage in conversations on sexual violence, how to prevent it, and how to support survivors in getting connected to services. The text of the proclamation can be found at:

If you are a victim of sexual assault, sexual violence or sexual exploitation, DPH encourages you to report it to a trusted friend, adult or law enforcement official. ContactLifeline also offers sexual assault counseling services for individuals, families, as well as group therapy sessions for survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones. Call 1-800-262-9800 for more information.

Continued community engagement is key to increasing awareness of sexual assault and how to prevent it. The Sexual Assault Network of Delaware (SAND) represents a group of multi-disciplinary professionals, which also includes community members and sexual assault survivors. For more information about becoming involved with SAND, visit or call the Contact Lifeline main number at 1-800-262-9800

Sexual assault data:

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.