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Don’t be afraid to discuss uncomfortable topic during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Joyce Dorian
Prevention & Education
North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network

   Sometimes because a certain topic feels uncomfortable it can be avoided. Often these topics are horrible things we hope never happen to ourselves, anyone we know and anyone we don’t know. 
   However, the potential pitfall of not having some of these uncomfortable conversations is not properly educating and raising awareness of how to prevent and what to do in the worst-case scenario.
 The uncomfortable topic I am referring to is sexual assault, and I shine the light on this because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, there are on average over 293,000 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S. What may be surprising to some is that nearly 85% of these victims knew the person who raped or assaulted them. 
   At North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network (NGMCN) we are here to provide a myriad of support for the victims. This can include conducting the sexual assault exam at our private, safe, secure, and calm exam room with our dedicated staff. 
   This includes a specially trained SANE nurse to conduct the exam as well as a specially trained advocate to be there for the victim through their journey of reporting the event through their healing process. We have helped clients with temporary and permanent housing, counseling, doctor exams, filing for Victim’s Compensation and much more. 
NGMCN is dedicated to making a very horrific and difficult experience easier and to make sure the victim knows that we are there for them in as many ways as we can be.
    In addition to helping the victim through their experience, NGMCN is dedicated to education and prevention. You might see one of our staff at various events around town. We’d love for you to come by and say hello when you see us.
    There are a few tips about Sexual Assault Prevention that we’d like to share with everyone.
     1 • Be Assertive - Sometimes in an attempt to not hurt someone else’s feelings, it may be possible for another to misunderstand what you really mean. While it is wrong, some confuse passivity, lack of firmness and even not protesting enough as consent.
    2. Don’t Be Afraid of Hurting Someone Else’s Feelings - Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, trust that. You may be concerned about how someone else might feel or how it might look to others but remember that you can always explain later.
    3. Pay Attention to the Red Flags - If you see something you are not sure about, honor that and avoid it. 
    4. Check in With Friends - Let friends know where you are, where you might go and do, and run it by them. Check in with friends often and have a plan in place if one of your friends does not check in.
    5. Be Careful About Your Drink – Don’t drink anything from someone you don’t know. There are covers that can go over drinks to prevent someone from slipping something in it.
    6. Have a Safety Plan in Place with Your Friends – Have a pre-arranged code word or phrase with your friends. If something is not feeling right, instead of needing to explain it then, use your pre-arranged phrase that lets your group know that there is a safety issue and it is time to quickly leave. You can explain all the details when you are safely away from the scene.
     Most importantly if you or someone you know is raped or sexually assaulted, it is not yours or their fault. You deserve help and support. You can call the NGMCN 24/7 at 706-632-8400 or 1-800-33-HAVEN.

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