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Government highlights sexual assault awareness during April

The federal government has designated April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The focus of SAAM is to increase information about sex crimes and sexual violence along with preventative measures for both adults and children.

When children are given appropriate information on healthy sexuality, the adults in their lives can help protect them against child sexual abuse. SAAM helps raise awareness and the promotion of teaching proper boundaries. It also teaches children that the word "no" is appropriate to say. The group encourages the modeling of positive attitudes and behaviors toward sexuality and highlights possible risk factors for sexual abuse.

Statistics bear out that about 20 percent of all women nationally and about 1 in 71 men have been raped at some point in their lives. Almost half of all women and about 20 percent of men have been subject to some other type of sexual assault.

Because of the stigma attached to sexual violence, many people are reluctant to talk about it if it happens to them. Sexual violence includes any type of sexual contact where consent is not freely given, including where consent is not able to be given due to the person's age or mental capabilities. Sexual violence can include verbal assault, and anyone can commit it.

Sexual violence can also negatively affect people emotionally and physically. They can be subject to all types of pain, distress and sexual health issues. They may have trust issues and have to deal with unresolved fear or anxiety. They might feel overwhelmed with negative emotions that can lead to depression, eating disorders, addictions and possible suicide.

While the public needs a heightened awareness of sexual assault, anyone accused of this crime deserves adequate legal protection. A criminal defense attorney might be able to help ensure a client's rights are protected during the court process.

Source: National Sexual Violence Resource Center, "Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Home," April 2013

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month," April 1, 2013 

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