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1,000+ handwritten cards from sexual assault survivors bring powerful message to statehouse

Push to reduce sexual assault

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 1,000 pink postcards are hanging up inside the Indiana Statehouse Thursday for a reason. They’re calling for legislative action to help lower incidents of sexual assault in Indiana.

The handwritten pink cards are real, raw and deeply honest.

“Sexual assault and harassment is a prevailing problem in Indiana. I would even describe it as an epidemic. That’s why it’s important for us to address this issue,” said Rima Shahid, executive director of Women4Change.

It means a lot to Rita Venable. She was sexually assaulted in the early 1980s.

“I just needed to get away from that situation and leave. That was hard to do,” said Venable.

More than 1,000 handwritten cards from every Indiana county stretched out on several clotheslines Thursday at the statehouse downtown.

“We need to change the hearts and minds of our legislators, but we also need to change the hearts and the minds of our society,” Venable said.

That’s why the intensely personal, yet anonymous messages from sexual assault survivors and their supporters were hung. Right now, sex without consent is not a crime in our state, unless there is force, the threat of force, or incapacitation,

“We always are talking about ‘no means no’, but if we don’t have the law to back it up then it’s worthless and that crime has to mean something. They have to be represented and they have to be seen through the eyes of the law,” said Tracey Horth Krueger, CEO of Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault & Human Trafficking.

Advocates hope these words move state lawmakers to bring Indiana’s sexual assault laws up-to-date.

“Our policies and protection of women cannot and will not change without this open and honest dialogue,” said State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, (D-Munster).

“A bill moving through the process, Senate Bill 146, would give survivors the opportunity to consult with a victim advocate. They would be able to provide advice and comfort throughout the process,” said State Rep. Sharon Negele, (R-Attica).

Venable hopes these handwritten words truly have a lasting impact.

You can read many of these cards at the statehouse during the next couple of weeks. You can also read them at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis.