Sexual assault causes
Wednesday, April 19,
- By Lynn Shield,
executive director of Operation Care and spokesperson for the Amador County Sexual Assault Awareness Month Committee
Editor's note: The
Amador Ledger Dispatch will be running a series of guest commentaries from Operation Care throughout April. We encourage this
community to get involved in the fight against sexual assault and domestic violence.
Look around you. Who do you know
that is a survivor of sexual assault? You almost certainly know at least one survivor. The FBI and the Journal
of Traumatic Stress state about one in three women has been a victim of sexual assault; further, such victimization has happened
to one of four girls, one of six boys and even one of 11 men. And the effects don't end with an attack; they go on for a lifetime.
assault is any undesired physical contact of a sexual nature perpetrated against another person. This can include anything
from an undesired touch to the actual act of rape with physical violence. Perpetrators of sex crimes can be any age, sex,
color or occupation. Sexual crimes can happen at home, at school, at work, in a parking lot or public place. As you may have
seen from recent reports, perpetrators can even be very high level authority figures that seem on the surface to be trusted
adults. They prey on their victims and may repeat the crime again and again with the same victim or multiple victims.
Victims of sexual assault carry the crime with them for the rest of their lives. They may experience some or
all of the following long term affects:
- Nightmares that keep rewinding over and over.
- Triggers such as a
certain smell, shirt, place, sound or item may remind the victim of the incident.
- Flashbacks that repeat themselves
over and over while they are awake.
- They can suffer from physical symptoms, such as chronic aches and pains on a
place of their body that was victimized. (Example: If they were forced to perform oral copulation, they may suffer from chronic
- Psychological effects including shock, denial, fear, confusion, anxiety, withdrawal, guilt, nervousness,
distrust in others and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
- Social effects include difficulty maintaining good
relationships with partners, family and friends and a tendency to become isolated.
Victims of sexual assault will often
want to "get clean" as soon as possible, by washing, throwing away clothes, etc. DON'T DO IT. Victims of rape should
go to a safe place, contact law enforcement and go to a hospital. They should not bathe, douche or brush their teeth. They
should hold on to their clothing. If they choose not to report the incident, they should at least seek medical attention to
make sure they have not suffered any serious injuries or contracted any diseases. If you or someone you know needs help, call
911 or call the 24-hour crisis line at 223-2600 to talk to a counselor.
April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault
Awareness Month. Throughout the month, Operation Care and Amador County's Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) Committee
are inviting employers to allow their staff to break the dress code and the silence by wearing jeans during the month of April,
and especially on Denim Day, Wednesday April 19. Wearing jeans is a symbol of protest of harmful attitudes about rape in response
to an Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rape conviction because the victim wore jeans. This decision did not recognize
that coercion, threats and force are a part of the act of rape.
The Amador County Sexual Assault Awareness Committee
consists of members from Operation Care, Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency, District Attorney's Office, Sutter Amador
Hospital, American Legion Ambulance, Amador County Public Health Department, Amador County Child Abuse Prevention Council,
The ARC, and others.
Operation Care is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 providing domestic violence and sexual
assault support services, crisis intervention and education to our community. For more information, call 223-2897.