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Sexual Assault Destroys the Heartbeat of Community

Often what we do not fully understand – we judge. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network provides a clear insight for us to have a framework of understanding. It is my firm belief, that once you become aware of anything that stirs your heart, you must choose how you will respond.


Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault.

What is sexual assault? The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:

· Attempted rape.

· Fondling or unwanted sexual touching.

· Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body.

· Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape.


What is rape? Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent.


Who are the perpetrators? The majority of perpetrators are someone known to the victim.

Approximately eight out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape. This does not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.


In other instances, the victim may not know the perpetrator at all. This type of sexual violence is sometimes referred to as stranger rape. Stranger rape can occur in several different ways:

· Blitz sexual assault: when a perpetrator quickly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact, usually at night in a public place.

· Contact sexual assault: when a perpetrator contacts the victim and tries to gain their trust by flirting, luring the victim to their car, or otherwise trying to coerce the victim into a situation where the sexual assault will occur.

· Home invasion sexual assault: when a stranger breaks into the victim's home to commit the assault.


Survivors of both stranger rape and acquaintance rape often blame themselves for behaving in a way that encouraged the perpetrator. It’s important to remember that the victim is never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.” The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) April 2, 2024


Informed and positive responses to victims of a sexual assault is extremely important. Understanding that victims of sexual assault are never at fault, should help us collectively to provide trauma informed care. Once someone experiences an assault it is extremely difficult to navigate life without that haunting experience affecting every aspect of their life. It takes numerous resources found in an ecosystem of community to provide every facet of wrap around care which is why the theme for this year’s sexual assault awareness month emphasis is impactful. “Our Voices Have Power. Together, We Can Build Safe and Respectful Communities.”


Safe and respectful community begins with believing the victim. It is imperative that shaming and blaming are irradicated from the ecosystem of care. Understanding that nothing the victim did, said or clothing worn gave permission or the right for a perpetrator to violently assault them. So, as a community we all are responsible to provide the best trauma informed care and to hold bad characters responsible. Just like the facets cut into a diamond, the facets that make up a safe community must come together and no longer allow sexual assault to be tolerated.


In the Xquisite community we take the violence against anyone very serious and not to be tolerated. We are creating a safe respite place of care in our Freedom Center that includes a nurse practitioner who will be fully trained to care for sexual assault victims beginning this fall. This space will provide another kinder and gentler medical exam experience for our diamonds.


Additionally, we have made partnerships with our local emergency room physicians as well as the Sexual Assault Response Advocates to give victims the resources and support that may need to process what has been violently taken from them and begin to explore a path to healing. The team at Xquisite is passionate about loving our diamonds right where they are and allowing them the space to feel seen, heard, and most importantly believed. Sexual assault is a violent crime that affects not only the body. There is also a tremendous assault on their mind and sense of purpose, so the ecosystem of trauma informed care must include patient unconditional love and prayer.


Taking a few moments to understand fully what sexual assault is and the terror it inflicts will help us as a community to see victims in a way that does not blame, shame, or exude pity. As a community first and foremost we must not tolerate sexual assault behavior of any kind and educate our families and children, helping them understand what we should never allow. Hearing the statistics of sexual assault violence from family members or close acquaintances must cause us to be vigilant to break legacies of abuse and redeem them by creating safe spaces for healing and embracing education that surrounds our children, giving them a positive way to live a life free from violence. We must empower the next generation and champion our brave survivors to see sexual assault for what it is – a selfish violent assault taken without consent in a terrorizing manner. We must stand up together to declare we will no longer act out of ignorance or apathy and no longer allow the people we love and do life with to suffer alone. Sexual assault destroys the heartbeat of community. Together we can maintain strength, courage, and safe communities that thrive on respect and honor for one another. No one should live in terror or fight the violence they have had to endure alone. Our heartbeat must be a community of love and respect where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and live free. I have taken a few moments of your time to bring understanding of what sexual assault might look like in your community, you now have the choice to join me in fighting against this atrocity. It takes all of us doing our part linking arms and change the narrative on our watch for us, and for the generation that is counting on us to hold our community’s heartbeat free from violence and sexual assault.

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