April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

by: Tay Drum

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Did you know that child sexual abuse, rape, and attempted rape are all types of sexual assault? Did you know that popular figures like Mary J. Blige, Oprah Winfrey, Marilyn Manson, and Tyler Perry are all SURVIVORS of sexual abuse? Did you know that by the age of 18, one in every four females and one in every six males will experience some form sexual abuse? More importantly, did you know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and sexual assault is very common?

Whether you call it molestation, sexual assault, or rape, you must know that what you experienced was NOT your fault. Some of you may be confused about what you have experienced and even question if what occurred was wrong.

According to trauma experts, child sexual abuse is any interaction between a child or adolescent and an adult or older child in which the perpetrator uses sexual stimulation. Sexual stimulation can involve, but is not limited to, direct physical contact, touching, kissing, fondling, rubbing, oral sex, or penetration of the vagina or anus. Sexual abuse can also involve the perpetrator exposing his or herself, as well as observing, filming, or taking pictures of the child or adolescent removing his or her clothes.

Rape is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. The FBI defines rape as “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Rape happens to people of all ages. However, statutory rape is used to refer to sexual activities in which one person is below the age required to legally consent to the behavior. Date rape, also known as acquaintance rape, occurs when somebody you know uses physical force, drugs (i.e., Roofies) or alcohol, or emotional pressure to make you engage in unwanted sexual activities.

There is a difference between sex and sexual assault, with that difference being consent!!! Sex is consensual when both persons mutually agree to sexual intercourse. However, both individuals must be the age required to legally consent for sex. This age varies by state. When sexual assault occurs there is a lack of consent.

If you have experienced sexual assault:
• Get to a safe place
• Preserve evidence of the attack and do not bathe, shower, urinate, brush your teeth, or your change clothes
• Report the assault to law enforcement authorities
• Get medical attention as soon as possible
• Contact a friend or family member you trust or call the local rape crisis center hotline.
• REMEMBER IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT

If you suspect that a child or adolescent may have experienced sexual abuse, please contact your local child protection agency (see link below).

SPEAK UP. HELP END ABUSE.

Resources

Date Rape- http://www.4collegewomen.org/fact-sheets/date_rape.html
Half of Us (http://www.halfofus.com) -Stories of trauma and distress by teens and celebrities, in
addition to other mental health resources.
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence- http://www.ncdsv.org/
National Child Traumatic Stress Network- http://www.nctsn.org
National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-656-HOPE
Notable Survivors- http://www.aswaterspassingby.org/notablesurvivors.html
State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers- https://www.childwelfare.gov/responding/reporting.cfm
Rape, Abuse,& Incest National Network (RAINN)- http://www.rainn.org

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