Love shouldn’t hurt – ever

Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Ever heard the old adage “out of sight, out of mind”? Sadly, the sentiment is true. When something doesn’t affect us on a regular basis, it tends to not be considered. Often, people don’t get inspired to get involved in something until it touches their life personally. For example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, was founded in 1980 by a mother in California, following the death of her daughter, who was killed by an impaired motorist. Sadly, if we could get more people involved in worthy causes before they are personally impacted, the needed services would be staffed and supported.

In recent years, sexual assault has become more prevalent in the news. We see gleaming headlines of a famous person being accused of rape, or an assault on a college campus. There have been celebrity court proceedings where sexual assault has been alleged that are televised, available to watch as they unfold, full of drama and gory details, and you see each side gather a following and nobody seems able to turn away from the train wreck on display. The Me Too movement was everywhere for a while and you saw many hashtags being used as more and more people revealed they had been a victim of sexual assault. So, with sexual assault victims finding courage to come out of the shadows, the conversation about assault being more commonplace now, and the outrage over these high profile cases, why do we not see more charges, arrests, and convictions locally? Why do we not see more community involvement and support for victim services locally? Instead, appallingly we see places like Seattle saying they won’t be assigning adult rape cases to investigators for the rest of this year. You may not think much about that but if it were your grandmother, mother, daughter or wife who was victimized, you might feel much differently about the apathy being shown.

It’s easy to get emotionally charged over a high profile case that’s plastered over the media. It’s easy to be a keyboard warrior and post your thoughts and opinions on social media but never really become invested locally in prevention or support of victims. However, sexual assault isn’t always the imagined scenario where a stranger snatches you from a dark alley. Sexual assault statistics from RAINN show that 8 out of 10 victims know their abuser. Every 68 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted. 1 out of every 6 American women and 1 out of every 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. Every 9 minutes child protective services substantiates a claim of child sexual abuse.

It’s easy to think it doesn’t happen here and it’s just someone else’s problem. But you are wrong. It does happen here -right in your community. That means there are opportunities for you to become involved in programs that work for prevention and support victims.

Crisis Services of North Alabama provides an office in Jackson County which offers free and confidential services to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. You can reach us at 256.574.5826 for an appointment. We also provide a 24/7 HELPline (256.716.1000) where you can speak with a trained crisis counselor at any time. You are not alone.

-Teresia Smith

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