Huntsville Police and Verizon team up to combat sexual assault

Today the Huntsville Police Department and Verizon Wireless brought sexual assault awareness initiative "Know It Forward" to the Rocket City.

Verizon Wireless and John Parker Wilson former University of Alabama quarterback and current Atlanta Falcons player started the program a year ago.

Through a Public Service Announcement, Wilson encourages Alabamians to visit and share the facts about sexual assault with their personal network through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Last year, more than 100,000 college students in Alabama sent messages through social media and email along with text.

This year, with the help of Huntsville Police and other Alabama Metros, they hope to reach a larger community.

"We launched Know It Forward with college age women in mind because they are at the highest risk for sexual assault," said Jeff Mango, president – Alabama/Georgia Region for Verizon Wireless. "But we know through the non-profits we work with who deal with these issues on a daily basis that sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere – on a college campus, in a corporate office or at the corner store. It knows no boundaries of age, class or culture. That is why we are expanding our outreach in 2011 to the larger community."

Statistics show that people don't discuss sexual assault: the U. S. Department of Justice reports that more than 60 percent of sexual assaults, including rape, go unreported.

"I just hope I can help get people talking about sexual assault awareness and prevention," Wilson said. "If we can get the conversation started on social media by using the resources at, we can help empower people to speak up, not only to report assaults but also to prevent them from happening in the first place."

In addition to forwarding the message, community members can get involved by donating their no-longer used wireless phones, batteries and accessories from any wireless provider to Verizon Wireless' HopeLine Program.

The phones that can be refurbished are donated to domestic violence and sexual assault organizations to be provided to victims and survivors. Verizon also sells the parts from phones that cannot be refurbished, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to grants for organizations. Residents can donate their phones at Verizon Wireless' stores.

Donation boxes will also be at the Huntsville Police station during the month of April.

Local businesses and organizations can get involved by requesting a HopeLine donation box for their offices.