Some of the recent high profile sex assault cases highlight the importance of getting help for victims.
This is sex assault awareness month in the U.S.
In Hawaii there are places people can go to get help.
Hawaii’s statewide network of centers offering help to victims share the message of prevention and care year-round — including one of its primary messages, that sex assault is never the victim’s fault.
The sexual assault of a University of Hawaii student April 3rd was not a typical case, according to Justin Murakami, manager, Prevention Education and Public Policy at the Sex Abuse Treatment Center.
“Most sexual assaults don’t occur with strangers. I know the classic case that people imagine is a stranger jumps out of the bushes and attacks someone that they don’t know. Most sexual assaults actually occur between acquaintances, so friends, family members and social acquaintances.”
More than 50 percent of sexual assault victims are younger than 18. Murakami says that while victims include males and females, the majority of victims who report sexual abuse, are female.
As with many aspects of life, vigilance can help with prevention. The center advises people to be aware of their surroundings and to recognize behaviors that are abusive in others — or could become abusive — and to limit their risk, possibly by removing themselves from those situations.
Prevention may only go so far — and Murakami says the underlying truth of every single sexual assault case, is simple:
“We make very clear that there is nothing that anyone can do that would make it all right for another person to sexually assault them.”
Today, Gov. David Ige officially proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Hawaii.
Separately, Honolulu Hale will be illuminated in teal from Sunday through Saturday night in recognition. On Tuesday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell will participate in a proclamation ceremony.
Not all victims report sexual assaults immediately. There could be someone seeing this coverage that has waited to reveal what has been a secret. Immediate help is available statewide, 24 hours a day, from trained counselors.
Murakami says, “I think the first thing I would tell someone who has been sexually assaulted and not yet disclosed, is that the shame is not theirs. The shame is on the person who sexually assaulted them. And that there is help available.”
The Sex Abuse Treatment Centers offer crisis care in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, as well as long-term therapy.
They work with healthcare professionals on medical forensic services and offer additional programs.
Help starts with a phone call — and we have phone numbers for the statewide 24-hour hotlines, right here.
24-HOUR HOTLINES — Interpretation services provided:
OAHU: 524-RAPE (7273)
HAWAII ISLAND: 935-0677
MOLOKAI & LANAI: 866-443-5702 (toll-free)*
*Maui County online: www.childandfamilyservice.org
Call TTY 711 or toll-free 1-877-447-5990