Editor's note: The following article was submitted by Putnam County Family Support Services in observance of April as Sexual Assault Awareness
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Sexual assault affects victims from every facet of life. Sexual assault is not a crime of sex or passion -- instead it is a crime of control and intimidation. As you read the following stories from victims, keep in mind that sexual assault cannot be tolerated. Education is the key to eradicating this horrific crime. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, please call Family Support Services at 653-4820. We can help.
Samantha had gone with a girlfriend to an acquaintance's home to hang out and relax after a long, exhausting week at work. Samantha only had two drinks that night knowing she had children who liked to get up very early on the weekends. As Samantha was talking to the people at the gathering, a middle-aged man by the name of James started "hitting on her" and would not leave her alone.
As Samantha tried to move away from James, he got in her way and cornered her into another room away from the other guests. James then tried to take her belt off. Sam told him "no" several times but he continued. James then grabbed her and pulled her pants down and held her around the neck and raped her. Samantha was so scared that she pretended that she was OK just so she could escape her rapist. Samantha left as soon as she could after James had asked her "is everything ok with us"?
Samantha called a family member who came and picked her up and took her directly to the hospital to get examined and report the rape to the police. No means no.
Mary is a loving, sweet young woman who has lots of support from family and friends. Mary is engaged to Michael and they are very happy and looking forward to starting their life together.
Mary was at Michael's apartment when Michael had to leave for work. Michael's neighbor Jesse saw Michael leave for work and went over to the apartment where he pushed open the door when Mary answered. Jesse said he'd been watching her and knew she "wanted him." Jesse then began to touch Mary inappropriately. Mary said, "stop" to Jesse. Jesse did not stop. Jesse ripped Mary's pants down to her thighs and raped her.
Mary kept telling Jesse to stop over and over the entire time he was sexually assaulting her. After Jesse raped Mary, he told her "don't tell anyone about this" and then he left. Mary felt "dirty and gross." Mary then called a friend who took her immediately to the emergency room where a rape exam was performed. Mary was hesitant to follow through with pursuing charges because she did not want her family embarrassed and for fear of public humiliation if she had to testify in court.
Victims of sexual assault experience guilt, embarrassment and sometimes think they brought the sexual assault upon themselves. How can the community help? You can support them by believing their story, give them support and most of all, don't tolerate sexual assault. Report it. It's time ... to get involved.
Call Putnam County Family Support Services at 653-4820 for help.