The annual march encourages the community to take action against sexual assault.
Statistics from Opelousas Police show there have been four sexual violence offenses reported in the city so far this year: two reports of rape and sexual battery, one report of third degree rape, and one report of misdemeanor sexual battery.
“Every year in April we come out and just let individuals know that no means no. No matter whether it’s emotional, sexual, physical, whatever type of abuse, we’re here to support you. We’re here to give you resources and let you know it’s okay to say no,” Daphne Debeau-Collins said.
As April is sexual assault awareness month, the St. Landry Evangeline Sexual Assault Center hosts their annual march against sexual violence around this time.
Dozens of people including social workers and community organizations rally together to march.
“Sexual violence is really attacking our community, our youth, the adults, and they feel like they have nowhere to turn. So it’s important for us to let the survivors know that we are here, and we are listening and want to do something about it,” Divine Nicholas said.
Nicholas, who participated in the march, explains the different ways sexual violence can happen.
“Child molestation, rape, incest, all of these things are sexual assault, so we know and understand that no means no. We know and understand that nothing you wear makes it okay for anyone to abuse you, and we need to believe survivors,” she added.
The march ended in front of the St. Landry Parish Courthouse with a candlelight vigil for Laura Belle Balthazar, the former head of the St. Landry Evangeline Sexual Assault Center, who died last year.