Wednesday, is April Fool's Day, a day when many people spring innocent pranks on one another, then make the declaration " Gotcha! April's Fool's!"
But this April Fool's Day is no joke for victims of sexual violence.  Instead, it marks the beginning of a campaign, "Red My Lips," as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
"At the Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney's office, we are joining an effort to encourage our county to stand against blaming victims of sexual violence.  This month my office, law enforcement, community advocacy groups like Audrain County Crisis Intervention Services (ACCIS), and supportive local citizens and businesses are working to end the blame and stigma often placed on victims in these cases," Jacob Shellabarger, prosecuting attorney said.
Recently the staff (including Shellabarger) appeared for a press conference n the courthouse wearing red lipstick to promote the Red My Lips campaign.    
On April 1 citizens throughout Audrain county are encouraged to wear red lipstick, or if that's not possible, wear a temporary tattoo of red lips on their face or arms.
"The victims of these crimes are not to blame for a criminal's actions and choices. It is said that a victim is victimized twice, once by his or her attacker, and again by the system in which the attacker is held accountable.  We can stop this. Victim blaming needs to end," Shellabarger said.
"If a person's identity is stolen, we don't blame him for not using cash.  If if a home is burglarized, we don't blame the homeowner for having valuables in his home...why should we choose to blame a victim of sexual violence for a criminal's actions? In so doing this takes personal responsibility away from the criminal," he said.
"Red My Lips is an international campaign promoting the idea that the problem of sexual violence does lie with the woman wearing tight or revealing clothes, makeup, or 'letting her guard down.'"
There are resources available to help victims of sexual violence recover from the trauma and feeling of vulnerability, helping them re-establish a measure of safety and security.
ACCIS offers group and individual counseling, assistance with filing ex parte and full orders of protection, and help with developing safety plans.
"My office also offers advocacy and support for those who have been victimized by sexual violence through our Victim Services unit.  My office's Victim Advocate, Leigh Thomas, assists Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ashley Turner in aggressively investigating and prosecuting adult and child sexual violence," Shellabarger said.
If prosecutor Shellabarger is seen wearing red lipstick Wednesday, it is not a joke.  It is a way to remind Mexicoans and citizens of Audrain County that one in five women and one in 70 men will be subjected to violence at some point in their lives.
"We can stop this. Victim blaming needs to end.  Offenders need to be held accountable. And everyone, especially potential jurors, need to know the facts about sexual violence cases," Shellabarger said.   "So if not on your lips, wear something red April 1 and this month raising awareness about sexual violence and what it does to the victims."
For more information about this campaign and how to participate visit,, or check out twitter, #red my lips.