April is Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and one of the events Hopeful Horizons hosts is Take Back the Night.
Back in the 1970s, a group of women came together in solidarity to combat the violence committed against themselves and other women. These brave women wanted to tell the world that it was not okay to violate their bodies through assault or abuse. In other words, they came together to say that they were going to take back the night!
Today, Take Back the Night is an annual, international event for communities to come together and say we support survivors of sexual assault and child abuse and that we will not allow this violence to happen in our communities.
According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 4 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, 1 in 33 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime and 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. While these staggering statistics may surprise you, what surprises me more is that 9 out of 10 times the perpetrator is someone the victim knows and sometimes even loves.
Stranger sexual assault is much rarer than we are led to believe by television and movies. It is much more likely to be a teacher, babysitter, uncle, priest, boyfriend, spouse or even a parent.
This can make reporting sexual assault a difficult and overwhelming task. Victims often think, “How will this affect my family?,” “Was this my fault? ” and “Will anyone believe me?” These overwhelming questions can lead victims of assault and abuse to think that they shouldn’t make a report to law enforcement or seek mental health treatment or even acknowledge that this has happened to them.
Often Hopeful Horizons hears from victims who said they just tried to deal with it on their own. However, for some victims, the trauma of sexual assault or abuse can have lasting lifelong effects if left untreated. Victims sometimes turn to drugs or alcohol, develop eating or sleeping disorders, become involved in unhealthy relationships like intimate partner violence or become depressed and suicidal. Years can go by before these victims realize that their assault or abuse has had a profound effect on their lives.
Our wish is that every victim will be able to find hope and healing. Whether the assault happened two hours ago or the abuse happened twenty years ago, victims need to know that someone believes and supports them, that there is help for them and that they can heal and feel like a survivor rather than a victim.
Take Back the Night celebrates those survivors for their strength and bravery. Survivors of sexual assault and abuse have the opportunity to share their story and encourage others to seek help and healing. They have the opportunity to rally the community to do better for other victims and to stop sexual assault and child abuse when they see or suspect it.
Come join us on April 7th at 6 pm at the Beaufort Waterfront Park. Together we can support these brave survivors and take a stand against violence. “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse a child.” And it will take a village to stop assault and abuse.