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By APRIL REYNOLDS akr011@latech

By APRIL REYNOLDS

akr011@latech.edu

 

According to a study by the National Victim Center, 1.3 women, aged 18 and older, in the United States are forcibly raped each minute.

This figure translated equals 78 per hour, 1,871 per day or 683,000 per year.

Joanie Griswold, director for Pine Hills Advocacy Center, said the sexual abuse center offers services directly related to sexual assault.

“If you’re 18 years or older, you have an option to report assault to law enforcement, but there are still a lot of things you need to do anyway,” she said.

“Whether or not you want to file criminal charges, we offer the services victims can take advantage of, such as testing for sexually transmitted diseases and rape- exam kits.”

Griswold said Pine Hills schedules appointments and maintains all services for victims’ convenience and anonymity.

She said if victims are busy during office hours, services can be extended to later times or weekend hours.

“We don’t want to inconvenience victims, cause further trauma or embarrass them by causing them to have to get excuses for work or classes,” she said.

Amanda Maxwell, community advocate for the Domestic Abuse Resistance Team, said many women do not report abuse or sexual assault because society tends to blame the victim.

“[D.A.R.T.] wants women to know that it is never [acceptable] to be abused, and no matter how the [assault] happens or what situation it happens in, no means no,” Maxwell said.

“It is never [the victim’s] fault.”

One in four college women are reported as victims of rape, and only 16 percent of rapes are ever reported to the police, according to the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault.

Maxwell said domestic violence and dating violence happen quite often with younger populations, and D.A.R.T. serves to encourage more women to speak out.

She said a lot of times women fail to report the assault because of self blame.

“Typically victims blame themselves, like if a young woman is at a party and is drinking, she may feel guilty and not report the date rape,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said D.A.R.T. serves anyone suffering from emotional, physical or mental abuse.

She said the team wants victims to know options are available, even if victims do not want to report assaults.

“D.A.R.T. doesn’t force people to press criminal charges or take action in any way; we simply present the options that people have,” she said.

“We are simply here to provide a sympathetic ear and to assist through the situation.”

Maxwell said D.A.R.T. also offers a shelter for victims.

“It’s a safe place for women who feel unsafe and have nowhere else to go,” she said.

Both D.A.R.T. and Pine Hills offer 24-hour hotlines seven days a week, counseling services and legal advocacy.

Victims may call to speak with counselors or to get information on what to do after their abuse.


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