As Letcher County and other communities across the U.S. closed the book on the month set aside each year to draw attention to the crime of sexual violence, victim’s rights advocates and others were making a final push to make sure the problem doesn’t go unnoticed in their communities.
Sexual assaults are much more prevalent than people realize, says Patricia Crone, an official with Kentucky River Community Care Inc.
“ Victims are afraid to come forward,” said Crone, clinical facilitator for The Rising Center, the name given to KRCC’s rape crisis center in Hazard that serves Letcher and seven other counties. “They are afraid of their perpetrator.”
About eight sexual assault cases are opened each month in Letcher County, said Felicia Wright, victim’s advocate with the Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
“Right now we have a lot of sexual assault cases,” said Wright.
In 2011, 3,166 child sexual assault allegations were investigated in Kentucky, said Wright. About one of every four women and one of every eight men are sexually assaulted, she said.
Wright said 60 percent of all rape victims know their attacker and 67 percent of all rapes occur to children under the age of 18.
“There are so many people who don’t report it,” said Wright. “It’s a crime. It’s not the victim’s fault.”
Wright suggests that people who have been sexually assaulted tell someone they trust that it has happened.
“Just because the first person doesn’t listen, tell the next person,” said Wright. “It’s very hard to talk about. It’s okay to tell someone.”
Once officials are notified of a sexual assault, law enforcement will open a case and Wright will be contacted.
“If you have been sexually assaulted you need to keep your clothing,” she said. “Don’t bathe. Immediately go to the hospital.”
The rape crisis hot line is 1-800-375-RAPE (7273).
“It’s a really good line,” said Wright. “You’ll talk to a survivor most of the time.”