April is sexual assault awareness month

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 6, 2018

Nationwide, the month of April is dedicated to raising awareness for victims of sexual assault and other sexually violent crimes.

Sexual assault is widespread in the United States. Many of my friends, male and female alike, have had to live through some kind of sexual assault in their lives. For some, the crime was committed when he or she was a child. For others, he or she was in their late-teens or early adulthood when the assault occurred. Whether the person was a family member, friend or acquaintance, most victims have said they knew their attacker, and some lived through several assaults at the hand of the same individual.

Unfortunately, most never sought medical help or filed an official report. Often, when I asked why my friend never sought help, they would say that “it wasn’t that big of a deal,” or, “he/she is my friend, I don’t want to cause trouble.”

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While they tried to push the assault aside as something minor, years later, many still struggle with what was done to them.

Experiencing a sexually violent crime is extremely personal. It can feel as though reporting the crime would be overreacting, or that if the crime became public, it would cause a rift between the victim and family members. While every situation is different, if a person truly believes that a crime was committed, a report should be made immediately.

According to the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault, in the state of Mississippi, victims have up to 96 hours to have an assault test done to collect evidence that can be used against the aggressor. While it can be uncomfortable to go through these tests and file a report, it is important to remember that the individual who committed the crime, if not brought to justice, could attack others.

If a crime is committed, seek medical help, contact the authorities and do whatever is necessary to prevent others from having to live through such a traumatic experience.