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Sexual assault topic of town hall meeting

Krystle Wagner • Feb 13, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Community members and local agencies will have a chance to discuss sexual assault at a special town hall-style meeting in Grand Haven next week.

The town hall meeting on sexual assault will take place 6:30-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave. The event will include a panel of speakers, large and small group discussions, and a look at what resources are needed in the community.

Extended Grace Executive Director Barbara Lee VanHorssen said she believes the #MeToo movement is a “watershed moment.”

“It’s time for this cultural shift to take place,” she said.

Panelists will include: Megan Hennessey, a clinical services supervisor for the Center for Women in Transition (CWIT); Seth Mika, a Call to Action team leader for CWIT; Darcy Komejan, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center; Jake Jenison, of the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office; Henrietta Hadley of WINC: For All Women Veterans; and Danielle Smith from Shape Corp.

Hennessey and Mika will speak about trauma and its effects. Komejan will speak about the effects on children. Jenison prosecutes sexual assault cases in Ottawa County. Hadley will discuss sexual assault in the military. Smith will discuss appropriate workplace behavior.

Throughout the evening, therapists will be on hand if participants want to speak with someone.

VanHorssen said there are valid questions about what’s funny, what’s harassment and how are people should behave. By conducting the town hall meeting and discussing sexual assault, VanHorssen said she would also like to see a common language and common set of expectations on behavior. Additionally, she would like to see the barriers to seeking support and treatment to be removed, and for people to become aware of the available resources.

In 2017, there were 61 sexual assault cases in Ottawa County.

Over the past few years, Extended Grace has hosted town hall meetings on topics such as addiction, mental health and suicide.

Anyone who needs transportation to or from the meeting can call 616-414-9111.

Food sponsors are Marco’s Pizza and Aldea Coffee. Co-sponsors of the event include the City of Grand Haven, Grand Haven Area Public Schools, North Ottawa Community Health System and Ottawa County.

Free Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training will take place prior to the forum, from 5-6 p.m. Since the training is limited to no more than 25 people, participants must register by calling 616-334-8894.

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