How many times have you have turned on the television, logged on to the internet, picked up the newspaper, or turned on the radio to learn there has been another incident of sexual violence in your community? How many people do you know and love who have been affected either directly or indirectly by just one incident of sexual violence?
One in four women and one in seven men will be directly affected by sexual violence. These statistics are of reported cases only and also do not include the many people who are indirectly affected when their loved ones are hurt.
Many people are aware that sexual violence often causes mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. However, a lesser known fact is that sexual violence also has physical effects. Sexual trauma causes survivors’ brains to release hormones that physically damage their brains. It increases survivors’ risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, auto immune diseases, heart disease, liver disease, lung cancer, headaches, and obesity. Ultimately, these diseases can lead to shorter life spans.
What can be done to help survivors of sexual violence and decrease the risk of more people being affected? In the last year, Cumberland River Victims Services has provided 433 counseling sessions to survivors of sexual violence, 47 support services to survivors in medical or legal settings, and prevention education lessons to 15,046 school-aged children. However, to eliminate sexual violence it takes more than just 13 programs across the state addressing this issue. It is the business of all of us to take care of one another and to prevent these violent acts from occurring. All of us have the right to live free of sexual violence, fear, dominance, and inequality.
Please join us as we recognize March as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky by hosting the Second Annual Tri-County Conquer 5K Run Walk on March 16. The 5K will begin at the Engineer Street Bridge in Corbin at 9 a.m. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. For more information, visit us on Facebook, or contact us at 606-528-5286.
Cecelia White, MA
Cumberland River Victims Services Administrative Director