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Your Views: Community should shed light on threat of sexual assaults

POSTED: April 14, 2012 1:00 a.m.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the theme is, “It’s time to talk about it!”

Healthy sexual interactions are rooted in consent and respect. Healthy sexuality is free from coercion and violence. Often sexual violence is ignored, excused or condoned and even encouraged.

Sexual violence occurs whenever a person is forced, coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, including when she or he is unable to consent due to age, illness, disability or the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It is a crime predominantly motivated by the desire to control, humiliate and harm.

Every two minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted. Because of that reality, our nation must be simultaneously engaged in crisis response, prevention and community educations. More than 50 percent of all sexual assault incidents occur within one mile of the victim’s home or at their home, and 73 percent of assaults were perpetrated by someone that the victim knows.

For 24 years, Rape Response advocates have been supporting survivors of sexual assault and rape with free and confidential services on the crisis line and at the emergency room 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Other services offered by the rape crisis center include face-to-face intervention; information and referral; support and accompaniment during law enforcement and criminal justice activities; free medical aftercare at Public Health Departments; prevention education in middle school through college; community presentations; public awareness; professional development and leadership for best practices; and community response protocol. The primary service area is Hall, Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin and White counties.

The community solution is informed and connected individuals and organizations working together and “talking about it.” Sexual Assault Response Teams include law enforcement, medical, judicial, human service and advocacy professionals who are committed to holding perpetrators accountable and providing quality services to survivors.

Individuals within a community can impact attitudes and behavior by promoting respect, safety, equality and healthy relationships on a daily basis.

Jeanne Buffington



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