Victims of sexual assault have come forward with their stories in the past few weeks and months, making it a particularly active time in the headlines. As famous actors, executives, and politicians are falling under suspicion, it can be easy to lose sight of the everyday reality of most victims:
One out of every six American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault in her lifetime.* And the rich and famous aren’t the only ones committing sexual assault and harassment; about 70% of assault victims knew their attacker.
It’s hard to know what to do, how to feel, or what your options are after a sexual assault. First of all, please know that you are not alone. Below are some other things to keep in mind. If you are in immediate danger or have been seriously injured, call 911.
- Your safety is important. Are you in a safe place? If you’re not feeling safe, consider reaching out to someone you trust for support. You don’t have to go through this alone.
- What happened was not your fault. Something happened to you that you didn’t want to happen—and that’s not OK.
- Call the RACES (Rape Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services) hotline at 217/384-4444 or 1-877/236-3727. They provide free, confidential services to anyone who has been affected by sexual assault, abuse, or harassment.
When you call the hotline, a staff member will walk you through the process of getting help at your own pace.
[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]