DUBUQUE – Avoid dark allies. Don’t walk alone at night. Wear conservative clothing. These are some of the things that people believe will help prevent sexual assault, but advocacy groups say these are actually myths. That is why they are using April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to educate and inform.
One brave survivor, who asked to remain anonymous, shared her story with LCTV. “It was somebody that I had known for years… a good friend of mine…he broke through the door. Carried me back to my room, ripped my clothes off me and started trying to get me to have sex. I kept screaming no to the point where he choked me and I almost passed out… when it was over, he kissed my forehead and said ‘See you tomorrow, beautiful.’”
That was the first time she was assaulted; she was raped six more times by someone else she knew. In fact, 73% of people who are sexually assaulted know their perpetrator.
Riverview Center Legal and Medical Advocate Caitlin Vrotsos said, “It has nothing to do with the clothes you are wearing or the time at night that you are out or the time of day. Sexual assault happens primarily by someone you know. Those are stereotypical things that society still believes in. We call those the Rape Myths.”
Rape Myths are common misconceptions that blame the victim or survivor personally for being abused.
“Sexual assault is never the victims fault,” Vrotsos explained. “It is solely on the perpetrator because of what they have done.”
Although there is no actual prevention for sexual assault, groups like the Riverview Center are doing everything in their power to educate people on violence.
“Getting into schools with school-aged children and teaching them things on violence and violence prevention and that kind of thing – especially how to treat a women, how to be a gentleman or same with females,” Vrotsos explained.
The center also offers support for survivors to aid in the healing process.
The survivor we spoke with said talking about it with other people was really helpful: “There is such a big support system out there for you. Your friends are your life saviors.”
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, there are resources available to help. At Loras, there a student organization called O.V.E.+R. that is dedicated to raising sexual assault awareness. To contact O.V.E.+R., email Jessy Hart at Jessica.Hart@loras.edu. Contact information for the Riverview Center is found on their site www.riverviewcenter.org.