Saturday, April 13, 2024

Sexual Assault Awareness

Hello, 9-1-1, what’s your emergency?

Hi, umm, yes. I’d like to report – I think – that is – I think that I have been sexually assaulted.

It can be a scary call to make. It can be a difficult fact to face. But when faced with the possibility that you, or someone you know, has definitely, or may have been sexually assaulted, raped, or abused, the first phone call that should be made is the police. Never report it to someone who is in anyway related or dependent upon the abuser. Never report it to someone who may be the abuser or assaulters friend. CALL THE POLICE!

Throughout the years, there have always been rumors. A warning here, a suggestion there. The infamous jokes about the “casting couch” that go back decades. The wonder and intrigue that so many child stars have mental breakdowns and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Many brush it aside – its all part of growing up in the public eye, in Hollywood. But is it really? #MeToo

He was a world renowned gymnastic doctor – some even called him a miracle doctor – able to fix and heal all injuries. Able to keep gymnasts together during the most important competitions of their lives. But Doctor Larry Nassar was abusing these young girls and women. Under the guise of medically necessary treatment, he would digitally penetrate the athletes he was “treating.” It did not matter where the injury was located on the body. He was a trusted doctor, and he took advantage of that trust.

We send our children to them five days a week. We trust them with their safety, their education, their development for eight hours a day, five days a week, for nine months a year – sometimes even more. Inappropriate sexual relationships between students and adults in our education system, from teachers to administrators to coaches, appear to be on the rise. Social media and texting have made these interactions all the more common and all the easier to initiate and continue.

He was a famous and revered football coach. He started a charity to give disadvantage youth the opportunity to develop life skills, further their education, provide them with mentors. Visits from Penn State players and coaches were common. A select few even got to visit Penn State itself! But Jerry Sandusky took advantage of these disadvantage children, sexually assaulting and raping them on Penn State property.

The Catholic Church is no stranger to accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct. In the past several decades, more and more attention has been paid to the accusations made against the church, with charges being filed against priests, nuns, and other church staff. Sadly, the Catholic Church is not the only Christian denomination, or even religious group, to have such accusations lobbed against them.

Many of these wide-spread cases of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual misconduct have another factor in common – the coverup. When the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke there was outrage! How could this have been going on for so long with no one finding out?! When Larry Nassar stood trial in early 2018, a similar outrage occurred! And who can forget the Hollywood elite feigning outrage and shock (and continuing to feign outrage and shock) at their coworkers and friends being accused of being serial rapists and abusers?

What often falls by the wayside is that many of these abuses were reported shortly after they happened, only not to the police. Victims of Sandusky reported it to Penn State authorities. Victims of Nassar reported it to their coaches, staff at Michigan State, and staff with USA Gymnastics. In Hollywood, you were warned you would be blacklisted, never cast again, if you complained about sexual assault. The Catholic Church would simply move their priests or other staff members to a new location with no explanation. Those who received these reports had a vested interest in keeping the reports quiet and concealed; in justice not being served. It wasn’t until outside forces, the police, were brought in that justice could begin to be served.

Sadly, as the above examples show, sexual abuse can occur anywhere, by anyone! Including those in authority positions and family members. If someone touches you inappropriately, or makes inappropriate suggestions REPORT IT TO THE POLICE! If they suggest that you keep a secret, just between the two you, CALL THE POLICE! An adult wanting to keep a relationship or physical contact of any sort a secret from anyone, is a huge red flag – CALL THE POLICE! CALL THE POLICE!! CALL THE POLICE!!!

This April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. It is a month to encourage those who have suffered sexual assault/abuse to speak out. If you need someone to talk to, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE(4673), or visit their website to chat with someone online. Additional information is also available at their website. Don’t be afraid to seek out help!

For parents, take time this month to educate your children, no matter their age. Teach them to understand and respect consent. No means NO! Teach them what to do if they are uncomfortable. Teach them where they should not be touched. Teach them how to call the police and make a report. Above all, let them know that you are there for them, and that they can come to you, no matter what should happen. And if any child should ever come to you and say or suggest that they were the victim of inappropriate sexual attention – CALL THE POLICE!

Finally, pray for all who have been victims of sexual assault/abuse. Pray for those who are struggling to overcome. Pray for those who are being sexually abused. Pray for end, so that #MeToo will never be necessary again.

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