OPINION | Sexual assault awareness month needs to emphasize on available resources

Utah Tech joins in to celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness Month with several on campus events. Brynlee Wade | Sun News Daily

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, is about providing knowledge of where to turn to for help to aid survivors of sexual assault and other violence. 

It is vital that Sexual Assault Awareness Month has an emphasis on resource centers and information on where to get help because if that’s not the case, the opportunity to do so is being wasted. While many simply acknowledge April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is not enough to just acknowledge it.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 81% of women and 43% of men in the United States have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault.

Because information on resource centers is not a focus for this month, it is crucial it be the focus so survivors know there is somewhere they can get help.

Sexual assault takes the form of many shapes including abuse and harassment. Survivors of any kind of sexual assault need to know there are places where they can receive the help they need whether that be counseling or a place to sleep. Survivors must know someone out there wants to help. 

Victims of assault tend to believe they are somehow at fault for how they have been treated because their abuser or assaulter have manipulated them into thinking that way. 

Places that offer services for victims of abuse and assault are shining lights for those who need them. Without services, survivors would have nowhere to turn. That’s why it is crucial Sexual Assault Awareness Month be that shining light that provides knowledge on services and different types of help available. No one should suffer in silence. 

I’m very passionate about spreading knowledge about ways survivors can receive help because my mom is someone who had faced abuse and assault at a young age.

While sexual assault, a lot of time, is a random occurrence or target, it also happens to people who have been in relationships for many years.

Having someone so close to me, carry that manipulation with them hurts. It pains me to my very center to know my mom is part of a group of people who have faced assault that no person should ever have to endure. 

Receiving help doesn’t have to be for any specific type of sexual assault. Receiving help can be sought in any circumstance of sexual assault including instances of harassment. A huge part of sexual assault is built in with domestic violence, abuse and harassment. 

Resource centers are vital because they provide help for survivors. Knowledge and help is crucial because honestly, police and other law enforcement are not always helpful. 

As my mom faced physical, mental, emotional and sexual assault from her first husband, anytime law enforcement was involved, my mom never received the help she needed. 

If she had a resource center available to her, she would have had options other than feeling like there was nowhere to go. Resource centers not only provide knowledge on mental and physical tools for survivors to cope with their trauma, but also housing for survivors to be safe.

Legal services are not best for survivors and can enhance traumatic experiences. While my mom was deep in years of assault, she tried to seek legal help. A city attorney told my mom there was nothing they could do to protect her from her assaulter. Absolutely nothing. 

Many survivors are unsure of where to turn to, especially when law services are not beneficial. Unfortunately, many towns and cities do not have resource centers for survivors because of the lack of emphasis on the importance of resource centers. This is why Sexual Assault Awareness Month needs to have an emphasis on accessible resource centers because law services don’t provide tools to cope with trauma or safe places to sleep. However, recourse centers do provide the help survivors are looking for and the help they need. 

I want people to know if they are victims of assault, of any degree, there are places that have their best interest at heart and want to help them. Right here in St. George, the DOVE Center offers multiple support groups, counseling and advocacy for survivors of assault. There is a 24-hour helpline individuals can call when they are searching for aid. 

Thinking about how badly my mom needed help makes my heart yearn for others to seek the help they need through resource centers. I urge advocates of sexual assault and other violence to emphasize the importance of resource centers.

The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault non-profit provides resource center information and ways to help as advocates again sexual assault. In a booklet for survivors it reads, “Please remember that the assault was not your fault.”

My mom said: “One thing I did read that made sense was…my reality isn’t a normal person’s reality because of the physical and mental abuse going on. It’s scary to trust somebody, but they’re people who will help you.”

The process of healing and learning coping tools should be the main focus of Sexual Assault Awareness Month because people need to know there is help, there is hope and there is someone out there who wants to listen. These things are all learned at resource centers.

Resource centers provide survivors of assault the physical and mental healing that is absolutely necessary. They provide an escape for those who need it and blaze the path for healing and change.