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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and local organizations are spreading the word. “It makes me feel empowered to empower other women, it makes me feel like I’m helping people and you know it’s the most basic human thing,” said Stephanie Barlett of the Emma Center.

The center takes a holistic approach when helping survivors heal from abuse and trauma. Marlena Neely, also of the Emma Center said, ”It’s more of us letting the women come to us and learning how to heal and grow and finding your own voice.”

This month, perpetrators can be held accountable and survivors can be supported. Paula Arrowsmith-Jones of the North Coast Rape Crisis Team said, “At least 1 in 3 to 4 women have been sexually assaulted in her life and 1 in 7 to 9 males are assaulted in their life.”

If you feel like you’re in a bad situation and some situations are unavoidable, here are some tips that might keep you safe: ”Not giving out your information to people you don’t know, not letting strangers come to your house, not walking alone out at 10 o’clock at night,” said Neely. Self defense courses are another option available through the Emma Center and the North Coast Rape Crisis Center. 

The Rape Crisis Center is another local organization which offers support to those suffering from sexual violence. Paula Arrowsmith-Jones said, ”Our role is to listen, to believe, not to judge, not to tell them what to do or how to feel.” The team provides free and confidential services including 24 hour hotlines, individual counseling, support groups, among many other things.

Both organizations say it’s important for the community to know that violence is a choice and no one deserves to be harmed. Help is waiting. The North Coast Rape Crisis Center said, “Just to any person out there who has been harmed in this way to know that we’re here and we're here to listen and to believe and support you.”

The North Coast Rape Crisis Center is holding their annual “Take Back the Night” Friday at 5 p.m. The event will feature support, music, a rally, and a chance for survivors to speak out.