Letter to the Editor (Independent News Herald)
To the Editor:
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Most of us are a bit uncomfortable talking about sex, but we need to get past the blushing and have constructive conversation about sexuality and sexual abuse.
Knowledge is essential to prevention, and that is the goal. By talking about it, we are promoting healthy behaviors that encourage healthy sexuality in ways that enrich our lives.
Healthy sexuality is comprised of consensual, respectful relationships free of coercion and violence.
Our children, as young as twelve, are being impacted by misconceived messages of sexuality and are being sexually abused.
Sexual abuse whether online or any other way is emotionally damaging, unforgettable, and often results in lifelong harm and agony.
Over seventy percent of all sexual assaults are never reported to anyone. Victims are blamed and shamed for being part of this behavior. A clear message needs to be sent that there is NO disgrace in being a survivor of sexual assault, but that shame lies ONLY with the aggressor.
Sexual offenses are not usually a reckless event, they are knowing, and often intentional, and most sexual offenses are committed by someone familiar to the victim. Most sexual aggressors are motivated by a need to control their victim.
There is also adult sexual victimization as well and the characteristics are quite similar, as few are reported and most of the time the aggressor is known to the victim.
We need to start believing and supporting victims when they report sexual abuse. Rarely is someone falsely reporting that kind of violence. A negative response to victims can worsen the trauma for them, and foster an environment where perpetrators face no consequences for their crimes.
Statistics show that sexual predators very rarely attack only once, many re-offend multiple times.
If you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault and would like to have a confidential conversation about it, please feel free to contact an advocate at Hands of Hope Resource Center at 320-732-2319 or online at www.handsofhope.net.
Hands of Hope Resource Center