Dear Editor,

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; it is teal ribbon time!

The teal ribbons lining the streets of Moab were set out by Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center to promote Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is time for a change!

Stopping sexual violence is a matter of shifting from a cultural paradigm where sexual violence is accepted and placing the responsibility for the crime where it belongs: with the perpetrators of sexual violence. This shift occurs when minds no longer embrace myths about sexual assault, such as the victim deserved it as she or he was drinking or doing drugs, the victim was dressed provocatively, the couple is married, or perpetrators are only strangers. In the place of myths, there is implemented understanding of respecting sexual boundaries, communication of sexual expectations, and the meaning of consent as being someone enthusiastically agreeing to participate in a sexual act. When individuals and society can do this, we can then honor the experience of sexual assault for the traumatic experience that it is, and begin a healing process for the individual, and in turn, the community.

Last year, Seekhaven fielded 20 sexual assault crisis calls and served seven sexual assault victims in outreach. We know statistically that 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement. This means there were potentially nearly 60 additional primary victims, and this number doesn’t even account for people who may benefit from advocate support but don’t call.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one out of six women have experienced an attempted or completed rape; this translates to about 750 females in Moab.

Please call Seekhaven’s free, 24-hour sexual assault line at 1-888-421-1100 if you would like the support of an advocate.