Living Well: Community resources available for victims of sexual assault
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Open Heart Advocates Services
Open Heart Advocates provide confidential assistance to victims of crimes without regard to age, race, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. Services, which are confidential and free, include:
- 24-hour hotline
- Counseling and support
- Emergency safe shelter
- Referrals and information
- Protective order assistance
- Personal advocacy and support
- Criminal Justice and Judicial advocacy
- 24-hr crisis counseling
- Community education
- Safety planning
- Children’s advocacy
Call 970-824-9709 for more details. If you need help, call the crisis line at 970-824-2400 or for emergencies dial 911.
Sexual assault by the numbers
- One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives
- In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime
- 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old
- 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults
- 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members of the child
- Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police
- The prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2% and 10%
Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in the U.S., yet the prevalence of it is staggering — one in three women, and one in six men, will experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
That’s according to a 2017 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The survey notes that violence can’t always be prevented, which is why it’s essential to have coordinated response resources in place in communities.
In Craig, Open Heart Advocates operates in collaboration with Community Clinics at Memorial Regional Health to provide vital services to local victims of sexual assault crimes. These can include rape, child sexual abuse, intimate partner sexual violence and incest, among other crimes. And while not defined as assault, other sexually-driven behaviors such as stalking or sexual harassment should also be reported.
“Any sexual contact without consent is a form of sexual assault,” said Noreen Beckett, night nurse at MRH who is trained to work with sexual assault victims. “There are so many myths about sexual assault. Sexual contact without consent is sexual assault.”
Any person or child can be a victim of sexual assault, but the majority of sexual assault victims are under 30 years old. The ages of 12 to 34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
In Craig, there are not many reports of sexual assaults, but Beckett said this could be because victims are not aware of the resources available to them. It’s important to seek help after any type of sexual assault as these experiences can cause life-long impacts on victims.
Those resources include victims advocacy such as Open Heart Advocates, as well as specially trained medical providers and law enforcement detectives. There are also national and state resources such as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (http://www.nsvrc.org) and Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (http://www.ccasa.org).
Reporting sexual assault
In Colorado, there are three reporting options for adult victims of sexual assault:
- Law Enforcement Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam and chooses to work with law enforcement.
- Medical Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam, but at the time of the exam chooses to not participate with law enforcement. Any evidence collected is given to law enforcement with the individual’s contact information. Victims can also choose whether or not the evidence is tested. If they choose not to have the evidence tested, law enforcement must store the evidence for at least two years. Victims can call the law enforcement agency at a later date should they decide to pursue criminal justice options.
- Anonymous Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam, but at that time of the exam chooses to not participate with law enforcement. Any evidence collected is given to law enforcement without the victim’s contact information. With this option, victims cannot choose to have their evidence tested. Instead, law enforcement will store the evidence kit for at least two years. Victims can call the law enforcement agency at a later date should they decide to pursue criminal justice options.
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.