Last summer, a Milwaukee woman called 911 and was subsequently raped by officer Ladmarald Cates- one of the two policemen that showed up in response to her emergency call. Her story made national headlines, but that did not even ensure her perpetrator would be prosecuted. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “the woman said numerous officers- on the scene and at the police station- accused her of lying when she begged for help and asked them to take her to the hospital.” It wasn’t until 12 hours from the time of her call, along with numerous ensuing events that included her being arrested after her rape for assaulting a police officer, that she was finally taken to Aurora Sinai Medical Center to be treated.
While the likelihood of being raped by a police officer does not constitute the majority of reported rape cases, the surrounding circumstances are common for rape victims. Never Alone Milwaukee (NAM) has been launched to assist women and men who have been sexually assaulted and in need of crisis care. NAM held their kick off community awareness and fundraising event on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Art Bar- Riverwest. The event was a huge success with nearly 60 in attendance for the Survivors and Allies Task Force meeting and dozens more packed Art Bar throughout the evening for the fundraising and kick off party.
Below are reactions from several members of NAM who attended the kick off:
Tonight was an amazing kick off event with the community coming out to support the Never Alone Milwaukee project and its partners. We are all working together to make sure that sexual assault victims in Milwaukee get the support they need and are never alone in the process. -Melinda Hughes, Program Director for The Healing Center
At Pathfinders, we serve traumatized youth 25 years old and younger. The project serves as a response to a community-wide needs assessment that stated the need for sexual assault services be more coordinated so that victims have a more seamless experience getting servieces following the most traumatic event of their lives. -Cathy Arney, Pathfinders
Never Alone Milwaukee is an initiative that I have been really excited to be involved in. As a survivor and one of the organizers for this event, I am humbled by the overwhelming turnout. This is a true testiment of the support in the community and the need for advocacy services. We must continue to support all survivors- men, women, and children. Please support Never Alone Milwaukee. -Dawn Helmrich, Survivor/NAM Volunteer
I got involved with Never Alone Milwaukee because victims and survivors need the support and assistance that they deserve as human beings. Sexual assault is finally being challenged head on by the Milwaukee community, and it will take the support and dedication of volunteers that are passionate to make this a reality. -Hannah Hildebrandt, NAM Volunteer
NAM needs to raise at least $100,000 to enact their vision. The money raised will help fund preliminary staff and train an estimated 100 volunteers. For more information, visit NeverAloneMilwaukee.org, “like” the Never Alone Milwaukee Facebook page, or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org.