Conference aims to bring awareness to sexual assault, domestic violence

Published: Nov. 29, 2017 at 4:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2017 at 9:40 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Wednesday morning's news about Matt Lauer, the anchor of "Today" shocked many. Lauer was fired by NBC News following a detailed complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.

>>> WATCH: Maira's report here

On the same day as this news broke, people in Lexington are learning and bringing awareness to sexual assault during the 19th annual Ending Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Conference. The conference is intended to foster understanding of issues surrounding sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.

"It's the first thing heard when we all woke up," Eileen Recktenwald, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, said. "It's devastating."

The conference is taking place at the Marriott Griffin Gate from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. The event is hosted by the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs and Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Lauer's departure comes in the wake of sexual misconduct complaints lodged in recent months against high-profile men, including in entertainment, politics and media.

Last week, talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose was fired by CBS News, PBS and Bloomberg after eight women accused him of past sexual harassment and unwanted advances in a report in The Washington Post.

Matt Lauer fired by NBC News amid sexual misconduct claim
Charlie Rose suspended from CBS News, PBS after sexual harassment allegations
House Speaker Jeff Hoover steps down amid sexual harassment allegations

Earlier in November, Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover stepped down as Speaker of the House. During a press conference, Hoover responded at length to allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Hoover admitted to sending inappropriate text messages and remarked he regretted participating in office banter that he felt was consensual.

Recktenwald said whether it's a celebrity, politician, or your average person, what we are seeing reveals two things:

"It says that our culture has been allowed to, it's been accepted," Recktenwald said.

Stories that are coming out prove that our culture is changing and women are standing up for themselves.

"It puts people who would be sexual harassers on notice that this is not acceptable behavior," Recktenwald said.

Recktenwald said many women keep quiet for so long because they are afraid.

"People who are the abusive person make them feel like it's their fault, makes them feel like they're ashamed, makes them feel afraid, makes them feel like they are going to lose their job," Recktenwald said. "Their job is how they are raising their children, buying their car, and feeding their babies, so why wouldn't they be quiet."

Because there is fear, she said it's an employers job to make work environments safe.

"To have policies and implant them," Recktenwald said. "Don't sweep it under the rug."

Recktenwald said if you experience sexual harassment, contact your human resources department and get help.

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