Taking action against sexual assault

Published 6:52 pm Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1 marked the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sexual assault is a topic that is uncomfortable for many to discuss, and it’s also a difficult crime to prosecute. Not only that, it can be hard to speak up against it, whether a victim or a victim’s loved one.

This environment helps to create a trend of silence among victims, as well as an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy within society.

However, sexual assault is serious, and it’s important to bring these issues to the forefront.

By taking the opportunity this month to learn more about sexual assault, the environment may just start to change.

First of all, one must get the facts straight. Sexual assault can encompass anything from inappropriate touching to unwanted contact with a partner. It can also happen to anyone — young, old, male or female. One in five women is a survivor of rape, and one in two women and one in five men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

It’s also important to realize that these crimes happen every day, even in Beaufort County. Each resident has a responsibility to do his or her part to prevent it from happening.

The NCIPC lists three types of preventative measures: victim-focused, which includes awareness and self-defense strategies; perpetrator-focused, which includes changing risk or protective factors to decrease the likelihood of carrying out the assault; and bystander-focused, which includes changing social norms and empowering people to intervene in these situations.

There is a role for everyone. It can happen to a neighbor, to a family member and even to oneself. No one is completely exempt from the risk.

By learning about sexual assault and taking action against it, even Beaufort County residents can help to stop it. It’s important, it’s not OK and it deserves attention.