April is sexual assault awareness month.
During the current health pandemic, it is important, now more than ever for victims to report sexual crimes. Community resources are still available 24 hours a day. (See below).
Ascension Via Christi sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Stephanie Killbourn recently joined KMAN’s In Focus with some information on how many victims typically seek services.
“One to four cases come in each month and in that you also have to remember Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes at only 68 percent”, said Killbourn.
RCPD Victim Advocate Coordinator Melissa Mosher who was also on the program says in many cases, the perpetrator is someone known to the victim. In some cases the victim may not even realize they’re a victim at all.
“We know just from statistics that most rapes will occur like with an acquaintance or even a former or current significant other. And so sometimes victims I think, just aren’t really sure like, you know, was this a sexual assault,”said Mosher.
Killbourn explains the first step any sexual assault victim should take.
“So the very first thing I want you to know is if you find yourself in this situation, please just get to safety that is my number one concern and priority. I want to make sure that you are somewhere safe and and you are out of harm’s way”, said Killbourn.
Killbourn says there are ways friends and family can support someone they suspect is a victim.
“They just need somebody to sit with them and be there for them and reassure them it was not their fault. That I feel like is one thing that I hear all too often. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. It’s not your fault,” said Killbourn.
A difficult aspect of sexual assault is making sure that consent was actually obtained. Mosher spoke about the importance of making sure actual consent is obtained in any dating relationship.
“There are situations that can kind of contribute maybe a little bit to consent, not necessarily being sure if it was obtained. One of those would be if there’s alcohol that’s been consumed”, said Mosher.
- Remain in social contact with family and friends via phone, social media or Face time
- Create “code words” with trusted family/friends and children if you are in trouble
- Ensure Emergency SOS or Emergency Location Sharing function is activated on your cell phone
- Pack an emergency bag (with extra set of keys, clothes, medications and important documents) if you must leave quickly
- Reach out for HELP
The Crisis Center’s emergency shelter remains open and available 24 hours a day, despite the current health pandemic. Their phone number is 785-539-2785. Pawnee Mental Health’s Crisis Stabilization Unit’s hotline can assist with safety planning and emergency community resources. That number is 800-609-2002.