Sexual assault numbers are ones we can bring down

The numbers are alarming: one in five woman and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives, according to a 2011 national survey. For those under the age of 18, one in four girls and one in six boys will be assaulted in some way.

Those are just the numbers we know because they are only based on reports. The numbers could be, and probably are, higher because not all sexual assaults are reported.

No one wants people to know they were a victim of a sexual assault, which is why we need to remove the stigma. Those who are sexually assaulted are victims who did nothing wrong.

“Anything sexual in nature that is something we did not ask for, we do not want or something sexual someone else is putting on us,” is considered sexual assault, Val Williams, Shelter Inc. sexual assault demonstration initiative coordinator, told Alpena Municipal Council on Monday. “It’s something any reasonable person would find offensive. It can be language or touching of any kind.”

According to Williams, only 32 of every 100 rapes are reported. That needs to change. We as a society need to find ways to remove any stigma that would prevent someone from reporting a rape. More importantly we need to eliminate sexual assault in our society.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and raising awareness is vital in combatting the assaults. But these assaults happen 12 months a year, so society needs to be diligent.

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, seek help and don’t be afraid to report it. If you know someone who is or who has been the victim of sexual assault, don’t stand by and do nothing. Get involved and help. It’s the only way we can stop these crimes.