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Most sex assaults go unreported

SUMMIT COUNTY – April is Sex Assault Awareness Month, but most people aren’t aware how serious the problem is because the crimes usually go unreported.

This is true even in Summit County. In 2002, Advocates for Victims of Assault, a nonprofit group of volunteers who assist victims of traumas ranging from rapes to events such as an avalanche, received 3,221 calls regarding assaults, domestic violence and other crimes.

Yet, at the Sheriff’s Office the same year, deputies logged only 43 assaults. The district attorney’s office prosecuted 133 domestic violence cases and 290 felonies (comprising a wide range of crimes).



“It happens a lot,” said Sarah Vaine, an Advocates volunteer. “The national statistics indicate only about 6 percent of assaults are reported and less than 2 percent are prosecuted. It isn’t reported, so it doesn’t end up in the paper and not a lot of people are aware of the problem.”

The first week of this awareness month, Vaine conducted workshops with high school students. Under the auspices of health classes, Vaine inspired discussion on healthy relationships, the concept of consent and the cultural forces that contribute to the problem. She informed them of aspects of sex assault that some find surprising: 84 percent of sex assaults are committed by someone the victim knows; a third of sex assault victims are between the ages of 11 and 17; with youths, most sex assaults involve drugs and alcohol.



“I think kids’ perception is sometimes that rapists are scary wackos,” Vaine said. “You take self-defense classes and you don’t walk down dark alleys, and you’re protected. I try to break down some of these myths.”

Advocates also will hold a training seminar for interested volunteers. Training sessions will be held from 6-8 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday from April 15 to May 15.

Vaine said a large focus of the training will be developing the group’s sex-assault assistance team to ensure victims can expect a seamless, helpful experience.

For more information, contact Vaine at (970) 389-3166, or contact the Advocates for Victims of Assault hotline at (970 668-3906.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Date Rape

– Reduce the possibility of assault by avoiding isolated places. Cars can leave you especially vulnerable.

– Refrain from drinking alcohol around people you do not know. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of date rape.

– Refuse verbally, clearly and with determination to participate in sexual activities that are against your will.

– React immediately to coercive situations. Pay attention to your feelings. Take immediate steps to get out of the situation if you feel you are in danger.

– Reinforce your refusal by using physical resistance.

– Remember, if you become a victim, it is not your fault. Telling someone is the first step to recovery.

– Source: Summit County Advocates for Victims of Assault, (970) 668-3906


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