2013-04-04 / Community

Sexual assault: Area group works to raise awareness

MANISTIQUE – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The month raises awareness about and promotes the prevention of sexual violence.

Sexual violence is defined as any unsolicited sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances against a person’s sexuality using coercion by any person, regardless of relationship, in any setting, including, but not limited to home and work.

Some current statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice: -Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted. -Each year, there are approximately 207,754 victims of sexual assault. -54 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. -97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail. -Approximately two thirds of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. -38 percent of rapists are a friend or an acquaintance of the victim. -44 percent of victims are under the age of 18. -80 percent are under age 30.

Victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and four times more likely to contemplate suicide than the average population.

Tri-County Safe Harbor provides free and confidential services to survivors of sexual assault, as well as educational programs for the community. Local law enforcement agencies have agreed to attach a teal ribbon on their vehicles for the month of April to help bring awareness to the issue.

Residents are encouraged to “shine the light on sexual assault” on April 30 by turning on their vehicle headlights or by lighting candles, lamps, porch lights, etc. to remove the darkness and silence that surrounds sexual assault. The light shining is designed to enlighten communities about the impact of sexual violence; honor survivors who have broken their silence; and support the victims who have yet to find their voice.

For more information on the services offered by Tri-County Safe Harbor, call (906) 286-4040 or the 24-hour confidential crisis line at (800) 682-1649 or (906) 789-1166.

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