With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we want to tell you about the resources that are at your disposal if sexual assault were to happen to you or someone you know. There are many organizations that can help you cope with and process what has happened regardless of whether or not you want to disclose the assault to authorities. Once you recognize that what has happened to you is, in fact, assault (which can understandably be very difficult to accept at times), it’s important you reach out and get the help you need.
If you’re a woman, non-binary, trans, or queer person, then we don’t need to tell you how harrowing the statistics on sexual assault are — we live with the knowledge that at any moment we could be next. But, statistics are sobering and that knowledge is good tool to have in your arsenal, especially when trying to help another person who has been sexually assaulted.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), every 98 seconds an American is assaulted, and every 8 minutes that victim is a child. Women on college campuses are especially at risk, with 1 in 5 college women experiencing sexual assault.
And it’s not just colleges where the risk of sexual assault is horribly high. 80,600 incarcerated individuals, 60,000 children, 321,500 adults and 18,900 military personnel are sexually assaulted every year.
Being sexually assaulted is an incredibly isolating experience that can feel shameful, and as a result of that shame many people don’t seek out the help they need to heal. But there are places that you can turn to, and in the spirit of knowing that one size does not fit all and that everyone has different needs, we’ve come up with a list of organizations that can provide you with support should you or a loved one need it.
Here are four organizations you can turn to if you’re a survivor of sexual assault.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, is the United States’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. They created and operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country. RAINN provides support to victims as well as carrying out programs to prevent sexual violence and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Safe Horizon is a victim assistance organization that works to empower those who have experienced domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking, making it easier to move forward from their pain. Their mission is to provide support as well as preventing violence and promoting justice for victims, their families, and communities. They also have a 24-hour hotline: 800.621.HOPE (800.621.4673).
3Know Your IX
Know Your IX is a survivor- and youth-led organization that aims to empower students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools. Their resources page has information on everything from surviving an abusive relationship, seeking medical care after experiencing violence, building a support network, dealing with unsupportive parents and peers, and experiencing discrimination.
4End Rape on Campus
End Rape On Campus provides free, direct assistance to survivors of gender-based and sexual violence by connecting survivors, parents, and friends with support networks, filing federal complaints, mentoring student activists, and connecting survivors with mental health professionals and legal counsel. Contact them here via their website for assistance in English and Spanish, or call at 424.777.EROC.
The final word
While reaching out to an organization may be the first step to finding the support you need after experiencing assault, it might not be the best solution for everyone. If you are more comfortable reaching out to a trusted friend or family member who you think will be supportive, you can always take that path instead. But just knowing that these organizations are out there and ready and willing to provide active support exist can be a comfort.