Middlesex County envisions a community without sexual violence and believes that with thoughtful action we can achieve this vision.

“Prevention is Possible,” this year’s SAAM theme, reminds us that violence can be stopped, and we all can play a role in this process. Engaging in prevention work involves developing efforts, taking action, and ultimately having a hand in ending sexual violence.

Middlesex County takes pride in our prevention efforts, which are thoughtfully facilitated by the Middlesex County Center for Empowerment (the Center), with essential involvement from the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and other community stakeholders. For years, the Center has coordinated the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition of Middlesex County, comprising various community members and agency representatives committed to preventing sexual violence. However, prevention is not possible without awareness. Widespread understanding of the magnitude of sexual violence is necessary if we expect the community to engage in more comprehensive prevention efforts. During SAAM, as well as throughout the year, Coalition members host numerous awareness-raising events where services can be promoted and information can be shared, such as through participation in Denim Day and sponsoring Clothesline Project events. With each year, the Center has more events to add to its calendar during April.

The Center also provides prevention education services, focusing on critical media literacy. Critical media education aims to change the culture of the community, addressing attitudes and beliefs that support sexual violence by increasing media literacy skills and promoting gender equity. We have sparked excitement and passion in participants and have motivated them to take action: We are making an impact. Students ask when we will be back to facilitate more conversations, share how gender equity has become a personal passion for them, and take action to talk about the sexual violence at community meetings and through social media.

Middlesex County looks forward to the day when sexual violence is an epidemic of the past. Until then, the Board of Chosen Freeholders is committed to ending sexual violence and promoting awareness of an issue that affects us all. The Center is driven to increase our presence and prevention education programming in every community in Middlesex County. With prevention infused in formal education at every grade level, we could ensure that high numbers of community members are developing the skills and knowledge needed to help prevent sexual violence. We foresee a day when the entire community recognizes the value and importance of the work of the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition of Middlesex County and actively seeks out opportunities to join the group in its efforts. Ultimately, we hope for a day when few survivors need the Center’s services because the violence has stopped.

Jennifer Kurdyla is a Prevention Coordinator with the Middlesex County Center for Empowerment. She helps stop sexual violence in the county through involvement in community events, assisting in coordination of the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition of Middlesex County, and facilitating critical media literacy programming as well as other related presentations and trainings. To learn more about the efforts of the Center call 732-321-1189 or email empowerment@co.middlesex.nj.us.