Since 2001, April has been declared Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The annual campaign to raise public awareness and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
Sexual violence can happen in any community and can affect people of all genders and ages. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will without their consent.
Forms of sexual violence include rape or sexual assault, child sexual assault and incest, unwanted sexual contact, exposing one’s genitals or naked body to others without consent, and non-consensual image sharing.
For people living with a traumatizing encounter, it can be difficult to open up and talk about the experience. This is why the following source wished to remain anonymous.
“I believe that educating children of sexuality at an early age is important so that they can identify the difference from right and wrong. We were just playing, until we weren’t. I was 5 years old he was 13, he was my friends brother and neighbor. He was someone my family knew. After the event it became something no one talked about. I think everyone assumed that i was too small to remember and in a way it was true, but it stuck around like a foggy nightmare. It’s hard to say if anyone can take safety precautions to stop such an act. I truly believe that whether it was that day, or the week after it was bound to happen. My parents had noway of knowing. So they had no way of anticipating,” shared with an anonymous student from Fullerton College.
Victims often know the person who sexually assaulted them. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource center, nearly three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. 21.1 percent were committed by a family member.
Sexual assault is a harm that not only impacts the victims, but loved ones, communities and society as well. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource center, in the U.S. one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police.
Rape is often not reported or convicted. A person may choose not to report to law enforcement or tell anyone about a victimization they experienced for many reasons. Some of the most common include a fear of not being believed, being afraid and shame or fear of being blamed.
Victims are never at fault. Choosing to violate another person is not about “I was drunk,” nor is it about the clothes someone was wearing, how they were acting, or what type of relationship they have with the person who abused them. Violating another person is a choice.
Sergeant Jim Mckamy from The Campus Safety Department at Fullerton College said, “There’s a lot of victims, not all come forward but for the one’s who do we are obligated to make a report and offer them health services including counseling. As a campus it impacts us and we try to do our best to help them. We also give a timely warning to campus through text or email if we don’t find the suspect.”
Sexual assault happens on school campus as well. The National Sexual Violence Resource center states that 25 percent of college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. Nearly two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment.
“It is scary to know that you can become a victim of sexual violence even by just walking down the street. I am glad we have a sexual assault month to bring awareness to victims and predators out there,” said FC student Jessica Sanchez.
On this month of Sexual Assault Awareness, lets stand with our survivors and raise awareness so it won’t happen again. For more information please visit https://www.nsvrc.org/about-sexual-assault. If you feel like you’ve been a victim of sexual violence please speak out to someone you trust or your local rape crisis. You can call National Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE(4673) for confidential support. You are not alone.