Resources available for sex assault victims

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— April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Advocates Crisis Support Services is reminding residents about the resources available for sex assault victims in Moffat County.

Karen Zimmerman, sex assault response team coordinator at Advocates, said that last year, her agency responded to cases involving 32 primary victims and 51 secondary victims of sexual assault in Moffat County. A secondary victim is a friend or family member.

“That is high for Moffat County, but we want people to know there are advocates here in Craig,” Zimmerman said. “We come together in times of tragedy, and through the strength of our community, we’re going to be able to overcome sexual violence.”

Although the number of 2012 reports for sexual assault was high, Zimmerman said it may be misleading. Now that victims know there is a place to get help, more are beginning to report sexual violence each year, she said.

Changes in the law during the past couple of years also are contributing to increased reports of sexual violence by victims.

Unlike in the past, a victim of sexual assault does not have to file a report with law enforcement in order to receive care from agencies like Advocates Crisis Support Services. Victims also may have a sexual assault exam without notifying law enforcement, Zimmerman said.

Evidence from sexual assault exams are stored for three years, which provides a lot of victims with the necessary time to come to terms with their assault or build the courage needed to confront the person who assaulted them, Zimmerman said.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions in the public that because of the way a woman was dressed, or spoke, or acted that she was ‘asking for it,’” Zimmerman said. “It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed or if the person who assaulted you was drunk. There’s no excuse for sexual violence.”

Victims of sexual assault can contact a professional at Advocates Crisis Support Services at 970-824-2400.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 970-875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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