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Sex assault needs community attention

The numbers don’t lie: Sex assault is a serious problem in Northeast Michigan.

As News staff writer Julie Riddle reported this weekend following an exhaustive, weeks-long investigation, state data shows Alpena County police received more than 300 reports of sexual assaults over the last five years, making sex assaults the most prevalent violent crime in our area, accounting for nearly two-thirds of violent crimes reported in 2019.

The consequences of sex assaults last far longer than the crime itself. Long after any physical wounds heal, emotional wounds linger. It can affect the relationships and day-to-day lives of survivors, and it can take years to learn to cope with the proper support and treatment, longer still without.

As sources told Riddle for her story published Monday, the entire community must take responsibility for stopping those assaults.

Our community’s advocates for survivors of sexual assault have earned statewide plaudits for their work, but they can’t do it alone.

We each must stand up for survivors. We must listen to them. We must believe them.

We must make it clear, both publicly and privately, that we will not tolerate sexual assault or harassment in any form, and we must stand up to it when we see it.

We must make it clear, both publicly and privately, that survivors have a place to go when they need help or support.

The crimes affect our community, and our community must stand up to stop it.

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