Survivors made to feel shame and fear


Sexual assault is any form of sexual act without consent. It is a global problem that happens even in the Northern Marianas Islands.

Although sexual assault is happening at a very high rate, many remain silent about it because of shame and fear.

Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog with board members of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence recently signed a proclamation designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The month of April will be designated to help those who have been sexually assaulted speak up about their experiences and help them recover from trauma.

According to the proclamation, which was signed last April 3 at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe, sexual assault does not discriminate. Although there are groups that are more vulnerable to it, anyone can be a victim regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, faith, or ability.

One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in some point in their lives. One in six boys and one in four girls will experience sexual assault before the age of 18. Youth ages 12 to 17 are two and a half times more likely to be victims of sexual assault or even rape, added the proclamation

Survivors of sexual assault usually feel a sense of shame and fear making it hard to get the help they need. Because the assault are not reported, victims don’t get the justice and service they need and put the rest of the community in danger of sexual offenders who were not held accountable for their crimes.

Sexual assault leaves a long lasting impact on the lives of victims and survivors. The impact is usually psychological, emotional, and in some cases physical.

The purpose of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, according to the proclamation, is to give hope and support for all those who have been assaulted. The month of April is designated to providing space and support to members of the community to openly speak out and demand safety for the people of the Commonwealth.

This year’s theme is “Engaging All Voices. The theme is meant to inspire the community to use their voices to make a change.

Dedicated citizens of the Commonwealth with the Coalition will be working together to ensure quality services to assist survivors or Sexual assault. Citizens may participate in the Island’s Sexual Assault Team as staff for a 24-hour shelter, citizens may volunteer to answer the 24-hour help line, they may respond to emergency calls, help in providing forensic exams, and may also offer support, comfort and advocacy during criminal justice proceedings.

The proclamation encourages the community to join in partnership with the coalition, the Division of Youth Services, and the Family Violence Task force to enforce Sexual assault awareness and to bring hope for healing to all victims and survivors.

Kimberly A. Bautista

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