HAMLET — Sexual violence is more common in Richmond County and across the nation than many people realize.
Its effects can be devastating to victims for years after an incident, sometimes leading to post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse and depression.
Victims are women, men and children of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Perpetrators can be strangers or people considered to be friends. They can be relatives. They can be dates. Domestic assault is all too common.
For some victims, the stigma and shame of being raped or abused is so great that they feel a need to hide it from loved ones and authorities. For others, speaking out can help bring healing. But the effects of sexual assault are never limited to the one who was attacked. Eventually, they take their toll on relationships with friends, co-workers and family members as well.
On Tuesday at Richmond Community College’s Cole Auditorium, the Richmond County Sexual Assault Response Team presented “No More,” a program in conjunction with other National Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities to honor survivors and their loved ones in Richmond County.
The program, attended by about 30 people, went on as planned despite blustery and damp conditions. Scott Waters of the Hamlet Police Department gave the welcome speech, followed by an empowering invocation by the Rev. Lamont Johnson Jr. of Providence Baptist Church of Rockingham.
Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris delivered a proclamation making April 2014 Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Rockingham. The proclamation contained some alarming statistics on sexual violence’s widespread presence in all our communities.
“One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives,” he said. “Child sexual abuse prevention must be a priority to confront the reality that one in six boys and one in four girls will experience a sexual assault before the age of 18. We must work together to educate our communities about sexual violence prevention as well as supporting survivors and speaking out against harmful attitudes and actions. Through leadership and dedication we can be successful in preventing sexual violence in Rockingham and Richmond County by increasing education, awareness and community involvement.”