April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time when we recognize and focus efforts to combat the damage that sexual violence has on our society.
Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or coerced into unwanted sexual activity without agreeing or consenting. Reasons someone might not be able to consent include fear, being underage, having an illness or disability, or being incapacitated due to alcohol and other drugs. Consent initially can be given and then later withdrawn.
Sexual violence is a crime that comes in many forms, including forced intercourse, sexual contact or touching, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and exposure or voyeurism. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter what the victim is wearing or doing, whether the victim has been drinking, or what type of relationship the victim has with the person who is committing the abuse.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence, Parkland College has a fully trained team of counselors who can help you process the situation, as well as police officers to pursue criminal charges.
[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]