Coordinated Community Response Column: Hearing ‘Unheard Voices’

by Jamie Craig, Victim Advocate for Sexual Assault Center

During April, the Sexual Assault Center organizes and presents “Unheard Voices” to local high schools. “Unheard Voices” is a presentation that includes victim stories, a PowerPoint presentation, and a panel discussion regarding sexual violence. The purpose is to inform the audience of the legal, social, and emotional ramifications of sexual assault. The panel consists of the district attorney, law enforcement, school counselor, and an advocate from the Sexual Assault Center. This collaborative panel offers a wide array of insight and viewpoints to answer questions from the students.

The Sexual Assault Center has presented “Unheard Voices” to area high schools for more than 20 years. They reach more than 2,500 students each year during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, giving students much-needed information about sexual assault and how it impacts them.  Local law enforcement departments have reported that after “Unheard Voices” presentations, disclosures of sexual assault by area teens increases. Below are tips to help a friend or family member if they disclose being sexually victimized.

Tips for Helping a Friend Who Has Been Sexually Abused:

  1. Believe your friend.
  2. Listen carefully.
  3. Help them to report to someone who can help, if they want to report (Sexual Assault Center, police, counselor, etc.)
  4. Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault.
  5. Be confidential and respect your friend’s privacy.
  6. Let your friend know that you care.

One in four girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 18, and one out of six boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. By supporting survivors of sexual violence, Door County can become a safer place to live. Take away the stigma and victim blaming of sexual assault victims, and more perpetrators will be held accountable for their depredations.

Victims of sexual assault are never to be blamed for their victimization, instead they need to be empowered to take back control of their bodies and their lives.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Sexual Assault Center, call 920.746.8996.

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