It affects more than 15 million men, women and children in the U.S. every year. It doesn’t discriminate against age, race, or gender. Location or social class does not confine it. It takes many different forms, and is used in various contexts. Do you know what it is?
Think about 10 kids that you know – picture them in your head. Now, imagine one of those innocent children is being sexually or physically abused.
Fact: One out of every 10 children are at risk of being sexually abused and chances are, someone you know has been impacted.
And in the time it takes you to read this sentence, roughly nine seconds, a woman has become the victim of abuse or assault.
Every. Nine. Seconds.
No matter the form of abuse or assault, the trauma is not isolated to that instance. Victims almost always experience psychological problems leading to substance abuse, problems in school or work, strained relationships and even suicide.
While the impact of abuse is shocking (and infuriating and gut wrenching and all the other things), talking about it, learning to recognize the signs and knowing how to respond are key factors in preventing abuse and assault in our community.
United Way SEMS strives to measurably and significantly decrease violent crimes of abuse and assault though agency partnerships and programs. Focusing on prevention and response is a proven strategy to success.
For example, The Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention offers support and advocacy for various types of trauma or crisis situations, one of those being campus sexual assault. Statistics show that one in five females and one in six males will be sexually assaulted before graduating college.
Additionally, individuals or witnesses are present during crimes of assault roughly 60 percent of the time, yet only about 15 percent take action according to the Bureau of Justice.
The Shafer Center’s certified staff is empowering individuals to interrupt violent situations through Green Dot Bystander Intervention training. There are different reasons that someone might hesitate to get involved, but the Green Dot program provides tools to recognize potentially violent situations, safely intervene and strengthen preventative awareness.
Kids Hub Child Advocacy Center is addressing this issue in a similar manner by offering Darkness to Light training to educate adults on recognition and prevention of child abuse or neglect.
“For most adults, it’s usually natural to want to protect a child,” said Jaclyn Adams, Kids Hub Immediate Past Board president, “but child sex abuse is not easily understood or identified, so we have to emphasize that it is our responsibility, as a community, to end abuse, and then educate people on how to do that.”
This year, more than 230 individuals have completed Darkness to Light training through Kids Hub in partnership with United Way SEMS. Teachers, policemen and women, and members of some civic organizations are now equip-ped to recognize the signs, address the situation and, most importantly, step in and save a child from sexual abuse.
It’s up to all of us to support prevention efforts and stem the tide of abuse and assault in our community. Find out how you can be a part of the solution at unitedwaysems.org or call (601) 545-7141.