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Letter: We can all pitch in to stop sexual violence

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April is Sexual Assault Month and for many people, it is not easy to talk about sex, let alone sexual assault and rape. But let's take a moment and get past the blushing, because this conversation is very important.

Last year the Southwest Crisis Center served more than 100 individuals -- children, women and men -- who were victims of sexual violence. Since we know that only 35 percent of sexual assaults are reported and only 16 percent of rapes, the number of individuals suffering in our community is actually much higher.

What do we know about sexual assault? We know that by the age of 18 one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted. We also know that the majority of the time those who sexually assault are someone the victim knows, often someone the victim loves and trusts.

So what can be done to prevent the sexual assault and rape of our children, daughters, sisters and brothers? We start with building community awareness on the issue of sexual violence and then turn the focus on those committing the act. We need to look not at what a survivor could have done to have prevented being a victim, but instead what we all can do to prevent a perpetrator from abusing. Understanding and challenging the myths that blame the victim and protect the perpetrator is vital to achieving a violence-free community.

All of us have a role in building safe, healthy relationships and communities. It is time to take your stand.

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