COLUMBIA - April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout this month, organizations in mid-Missouri have aimed to raise awareness about resources for sexual assault victims.
Every 73 seconds, an American adult is sexually assaulted. Our goal with ‘A Brighter Tomorrow’ is to address mental health subjects that aren’t easy to talk about.This story impacts so many in our area, and these conversations are so important. Watch @KOMUnews at 5. https://t.co/9hdS6QxT4c— Kathryn Merck TV (@KathrynMerckTV) April 28, 2021
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds.
“It's a difficult thing that they're going through, obviously, and they probably don't want to bring it up," Richie Vanskike, the development director at Rainbow House, said.
Rainbow House is a child abuse and neglect resource in Mid-Missouri. According to RAINN, every 9 minutes, an American child is sexually assaulted.
"The situations that that come to us are, you know, they're pretty heartbreaking," Vanskike said.
Rainbow House is just one of the organizations in mid-Missouri aiming to raise awareness about sexual assault.
"We can provide a safe space, credibility and constant reassurance that we believe you that you are safe here," Elizabeth Herrera Eichenberge, with True North of Columbia, said. "We are interested in in helping you heal."
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. At Truman VA Medical Center, there's a team dedicated to responding to individuals who have experienced military sexual trauma.
Horrific events like sexual assault can cause long-term effects for an individual's mental health.
"The most common ones are PTSD, anxiety and depression, and substance abuse disorders," Grant O’Neal, a licensed psychologist and military sexual trauma coordinator at Truman VA Medical Center, said.
"The consequences can be detrimental for somebody's mental health," Eichenberge said. "There's also a lot of stigma, and there's a lot of shame with our sexuality, that as a society - that's been promoted for millennia. Dealing with the aftermath of body invasion can be really traumatic, even if you think you don't have any symptoms."
As for how to help victims of sexual assault, there are multiple options.
"People can help by just giving, whether that's in kind donations, or if it's cash donations or unrestricted funds," Vanskike said.
"The big things are being empathic, being willing to listen, you know, staying, staying calm," said O'Neal.
Each of these organizations can provide mental health services following instances of sexual assault.
For immediate help in Missouri, click here or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. For the Deaf Crisis Line videophone, call 321-800-3323 or text HAND to 839863.
More information and resources can be found on the KOMU 8 A Brighter Tomorrow page.