Sexual violence awareness at the core of Empowerment Summit in Palatine

Many people are unaware it's a problem, but one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before age 18, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment.

There's a lot of stigma, shame and silence about sexual violence, making it the most underreported crime, says PAVE founder Angela Rose, a Bloomingdale native who was sexually assaulted in 1996 by a man who kidnapped her as she left work at Woodfield Mall.

Rose and Erin Merryn, the Schaumburg native and childhood sexual abuse survivor behind Erin's Law, know firsthand that the suburbs are not immune to the problem. That's why they are coming to Palatine Saturday to raise awareness about the issue.

They're co-hosting an Empowerment Summit followed by a "Better Benefit Concert" at Durty Nellie's in Palatine. The concert will feature "American Idol" finalist and Wheeling native Haley Reinhart and will be emceed by B96 DJ Justin Roman, of Stylz & Roman, who grew up in Bloomingdale.

The summit is open to the public, including teens. It's geared toward anyone who is healing from trauma or needs to manage stress, make lifestyle changes or improve health and well-being. There will be inspirational speakers, resource tables, massage chairs, a silent auction, demonstrations, an acupuncture clinic and more aimed at helping people lead more empowered lives.

Besides Rose and Merryn, speakers will include TV health and fitness expert Andrea Metcalf, Arlington Heights OB-GYN Jane Oh, and Palatine family law attorney Kristina Buchthal Regal.

The $15-a-person summit is being organized by Palatine clinical psychologist Michelle Kukla, who runs the Healthy Living Counseling Center. She said it's important for people in the suburbs to know there are resources to help them, whether they've been a victim of sexual violence or are dealing with stress and anxiety.

"It's not just for survivors," Rose said. "There will be tangible tips on how to lead a more empowered life."

Money raised from the summit and concert will be used to help PAVE and Erin's Law develop age-appropriate tools to educate students about things like body safety, boundaries and sexual violence awareness through their new "Consent Is" program, which is aimed at children in grades K-12.

This is Reinhart's first time partnering with this event. The singer said she feels a connection to the cause because she grew up knowing women who were in abusive relationships.

"If you're not educated about it, you might just get yourself in a situation and not even realize it. Being aware and hearing people's stories, and how they've healed, and places they can go to for help ... it's an amazing thing," Reinhart said. That's part of the message behind her new album, "Better."

"It's really important for women to unite, and feel empowered," she said.

Those interested in a free "scholarship ticket" to the event can email Jacqui Neurauter at

Anyone who can't attend but wants to support the cause can donate to the PAVE Crowdrise Challege at

Jacqui Neurauter does iRest guided meditation during a previous Empowerment Summit in Joliet. Photo courtesy of Michelle Kukla

If you go

Two events will be held as part of an Empowerment Summit Saturday at Durty Nellie's, 180 N. Smith St., in Palatine:

• The Empowerment Summit will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with speakers, classes, and other wellness tools. Tickets are $15 and include lunch. <a href=""></a>

• The "Better Benefit Concert" begins at 8 p.m. Hosted by B96 DJ Justin Roman of Stylz & Roman, the show will open with Wedding Banned, followed by headliner Haley Reinhart. Tickets are $22.09 each at <a href=""></a>

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