2021 04 teal ribbon

SPRINGFIELD – Highlighting a commitment to supporting survivors and addressing the critical needs of residents grappling with the impacts of sexual violence, State Senators Dave Koehler, Robert Peters and Ann Gillespie joined Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault advocates in the Capitol on Wednesday to call for a $20 million budget allocation for sexual assault services.

“We must invest more resources toward sexual assault crisis services to ensure that every survivor has access to the support they deserve,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “This means bolstering funding for crisis hotlines, counseling programs, legal assistance and medical care. It means expanding outreach efforts to underserved communities and marginalized populations. It means breaking down the barriers that prevent survivors from seeking help.”

The requested funding increase would strengthen essential services provided by organizations like ICASA, which offers a range of support, including crisis intervention, counseling, legal advocacy and prevention education. These services are crucial for empowering survivors, holding perpetrators accountable and creating safer communities for all.

“It’s time we move beyond using survivors as a talking point and make sure we are fully supporting them,” said Peters (D-Chicago). “Funding reductions to vital organizations in this fight, like ICASA, jeopardize survivors’ safety and delay their healing. Everyone should feel safe, supported and empowered — free from the threat of sexual assault and violence. We’ve got to find better solutions to funding our sexual assault centers for the sake of survivor services and prevention efforts.”

The rally also featured powerful testimonials from survivors and advocates. Their stories served as a reminder of the urgent need for increased funding and resources to address sexual assault.

“I have spoken with survivors who had access to your services, and I’ve spoken to survivors who did not have access to your services, and the difference in their recovery and well-being is huge,” said Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) while speaking to ICASA advocates. “What you do matters. What you stand for, and what you fight for matters.”

As the legislative session progresses, members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus will continue to work on negotiating a final budget.

Watch the video here.