April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Sexual assault refers to any sexual contact that happens without explicit consent and can include various actions such as rape, attempted rape, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, cyber-sexual abuse, forceful recording, unwanted touching, incest, drug-facilitated sexual assault, and threatened or coerced sexual assault. It affects people regardless of gender, age, race, or identity, and can happen to anyone by anyone. The perpetrator is most often someone who knows the victim, such as an intimate partner, friend, or acquaintance, although a sexual assault may also be perpetrated by a stranger. Unfortunately, sexual assault is common amongst all populations, and its impacts can be lifelong physical, mental, and emotional stress or harm. Help is available for anyone experiencing any level of reaction, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important to provide communities with resources and information to better prevent sexual assault and treat victims.
In Native American communities, sexual violence is experienced at a higher rate than in other non-Native communities, and sexual assaults in Native communities are the most likely to go unreported and not be prosecuted. This is largely due to stigma, expectations, lack of resources, and lack of care from authorities. Studies have shown that one in three Native American Women have experienced sexual violence, and one in four Native American men have experienced sexual violence. It is crucial to raise awareness about sexual assault and provide resources and support to prevent it and help those who have experienced it.
If you have experienced sexual assault, it is crucial to seek help immediately. You can go to an emergency room, call 911 for local law enforcement, contact the National Crisis Hotline at 988, or seek urgent therapeutic support. If you have been sexually assaulted by penetration, getting a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) done immediately, even if you are not ready to press charges, can be beneficial and crucial to evidence when you are ready to report.
There are resources available to support you in your healing, such as self-defense classes, therapy, urgent support, or long-term reporting options that are often available in or around most communities.
Call the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada Family Violence Prevention Program for more information, tips, or planning at 775-722-8794.