Many of us, myself included, would like to believe that sexual assault is not going to happen to someone we love or to ourselves. However, with statistics of 1 in 4 women and 1 in 33 men becoming a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime, I know that it has already happened to someone I know and someone you know.
What does a victim of sexual assault look like? Look in the mirror, look at your parents, look at your spouse, look at your girlfriend/boyfriend, look at your children or look at your friends and what you will find is a portrait of someone who may be or become a victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault knows no bounds. It can happen to anyone. The employees of Cumberland River Victims’ Services, your local rape crisis center, have provided services to victims who are males, females, college educated, functionally illiterate, poor, wealthy, and who have ranged in age from three to ninety.
These statistics and facts are startling. Some may even say they are exaggerated because we want to believe that we live in a safe environment where sexual violence does not happen frequently or to people like us. Some would go as far as to say that many people lie about sexual assault. However, most would agree that if sexual violence can be stopped, it should be stopped regardless of the statistics and whether we believe them. We, at Cumberland River Victims’ Services, believe that sexual violence can be prevented and have proof to support it. We, along with the 12 other Kentucky Rape Crisis Centers, have participated in a five-year study with the University of Kentucky and the Center for Disease Control called Green Dot Across the Bluegrass. Green Dot is a bystander intervention program that is based on the fact that we are all bystanders and that we all can do something to prevent sexual violence. The results of the study, which was performed in Kentucky high schools, indicate that by teaching people how to recognize situations that are high risk and providing them with ways of responding at their comfort level, perpetration of sexual violence is decreased by 63%.
What can you do to help us in our movement to stop sexual violence? The Green Dot research reveals that you can reduce the rates of sexual violence by looking out for people with whom you come in contact, by caring about people, and by reacting to someone being in a high risk situation of being sexually assaulted. How can this reduce sexual violence? There are more good people in the world than bad people and if each of us looks out for each other, the chances of your brother, sister, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, child, roommate, friend, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, neighbor, coworker, or anyone becoming a victim of sexual assault are lowered significantly. If you could prevent sexual assault for just one of these people, would it be worth it? I think that most people would not hesitate in responding with a resounding, “Yes!”
March is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky. Cumberland River Victims’ Services will be recognizing the strength of all survivors and their families as well as celebrating that we have an effective education program to reduce the rates of sexual violence by hosting the Fourth Annual TriCounty Conquer 5K Run/Walk on March 21, 2015 beginning at the Engineer Street Bridge in Corbin, KY. Registration will begin at 8 am with the 5K beginning at 9 am. Pre-register at http:// www.signmeup.com/98043 or contact us for a registration form at 528-5286 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a survivor of sexual violence and need help, please call (800) 656-HOPE (4673) or (606) 528-5286.
Cecelia White, MA, LPP
Cumberland River Victims’ Services Administrative Director