POINT PLEASANT — CONTACT Rape Crisis Center in Mason County, is gearing up to increase awareness of Sexual Violence in Mason County. And yes, it does happen right here at home.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC) web page says: “In the United States April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. Sexual Violence is a major public health, human rights and social justice issue. We need everyone’s help to end it.”
West Virginia’s Foundation for Rape Information Services (FRIS) tell us in their literature that one (1) in six (6) women suffer sexual violence sometime in their life; one (1) in seventy-one (71) men. The first thing we need to do to start Prevention in Mason County is to become aware that it exists and each of us have a role in Prevention. It is reported by the NSVRC that 79 percent of female victims of rape report that they were first raped before age 25 and 28 percent of male victims of rape report that they were first raped at age 10 or younger.
The next thing we can do is: Believe survivors. Most victims of sexual violence do not report. Why you ask? They believe no-one will believe them.
As a bystander, ask yourself if this is true. Would you ask, “Why were you there to start with?” “You were wearing what?”
No-one deserves to be raped; no matter what they were wearing, where they were, or what they were doing. If a person says “no,” if they indicate in any way they don’t want to do this, or if they are incapacitated: Drunk, Drugged, or Disabled. Rape is never the victims fault.
Rape is not sexy. Rape is not a sexual act. It is a violent show of power and control. No-one should exert power or control over another person. Usually it is the most vulnerable in our society that are violated. First is young women between 12 and 24 years old. The second group in our society to be vulnerable to this type of attack is older women. We just naturally group children in a separate contingency.
The NSVRC believes and so do we here at CONTACT: You can make small changes to help change our culture. Some ideas are: Building healthy and supportive relationships. Speaking up when you hear harmful comments. Creating supportive policies in our workplaces and our schools.
CONTACT Rape Crisis Center is in Point Pleasant and serves the whole county. An advocate is available 24/7 to meet the victim at the hospital, with law enforcement, or just for support. They can be reached by calling the hotline: 1-866-399-7273.
Paula Gregory, BSM, is an advocate for the Rape Crisis Center CONTACT of Mason County.