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Teen sexual assault survivor works with San Joaquin County law enforcement | News

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Teen sexual assault survivor works with San Joaquin County law enforcement
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STOCKTON, CA - A 15-year-old sexual assault survivor teams up with law enforcement agencies throughout San Joaquin County to promote sexual assault awareness and help other teen victims of sex crimes.

Stephanie Braithwaite founded the advocate organization "Saving Stephanie" after she was sexually assaulted by a close friend when she was 13.

Stephanie was confused that someone she considered a trustworthy friend attacked her. She felt ashamed that she somehow let it happen.

It wasn't until Stephanie confided in someone about the sexual assault and received counseling from the Women's Center of San Joaquin County, that Stephanie decided she wasn't a victim, she was a survivor.

"I didn't need to be ashamed. I'm not going to let the sexual assault define me," Stephanie said.

With "Saving Stephanie", Stephanie is allowing the world to know what happened to her and agreeing to be the face and voice of sexual assault survivors. "Saving Stephanie" promote sexual assault awareness amongst teens and provides resources for counseling and support.

"I haven't been doing this for a long time, but girls will approach me that I don't know and they'll say, 'I was a sexual assault victim too. What do I do?' It's alarming to know how many girls have been sexually assaulted in the county alone," Stephanie said.

Law enforcement agencies teamed up with "Saving Stephanie" for the Teal Ribbon Campaign. Patrol cars and service vehicles will don a teal ribbon on their antennas to promote sexual assault awareness and help victims get in contact with support organizations, like Saving Stephanie.

Currently, Ripon and Manteca Police Departments have signed on.

Stephanie is meeting with the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department and the police departments of Tracy, Stockton, Lodi, and Lathrop next week.

Saving Stephanie is also producing theatrical real-life survivor stories in San Joaquin County high schools next month.

In April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the organization is participating in several projects including Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes.

For more information email Saving Stephanie or contact the Women's Center of San Joaquin County at (209) 465-4997.

Counseling is available for both survivors and non-offending family members for free.

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