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The Family Justice Center is dedicated to supporting and advocating for all survivors of abuse and violent crime. April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month which provides an opportunity for us to raise even more public awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault, and the damage it leaves in its wake. The term sexual assault is an umbrella term that can include rape, molestation, unwanted sexual contact, incest, child sexual abuse, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and more. Sexual assault is a complex topic because it can occur in many different forms and can happen to anyone. We often fall back on the stereotype of a stranger hiding in the bushes… However, sexual violence is much more common in situations with a spouse/intimate partner, a family member, an acquaintance, a coworker… just to name a few. Often, the offenders are people placed in a position of trust and authority.

The serious and widespread problem can be curtailed by people doing their part to educate themselves and spread that awareness to others. This helps to destigmatize the topic and bring a voice to the survivors.

Below are some statistics on sexual assault in the United States.

  • Rape is the most under-reported crime: 63% of sexual assaults go unreported
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime.
  • Nearly 1 in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime.
  • The majority of sexual assaults happen at or near the victim’s home, often by someone they know, and/or trust
  • Only 5 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.
  • Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.
  • 1 in 3 female rape victims and about 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old.
  • 1 in 8 female rape victims and about 1 in 4 male rape victims reported that it occurred before 10

These statistics only scratch the surface of sexual assault awareness in the U.S. The numbers are both alarming and emphasize why it is so important for individuals and communities reach out to victims of domestic abuse and other violent crimes. The FJC is available to all survivors, providing a safe place to obtain a variety of legal and social services. Having these resources available for the survivors will help them get back on their feet after surviving the trauma of abuse.

Sexual assault happens to people from all backgrounds, and having a safe place to turn for help is something that can be empowering. As the statistics have shown, sexual violence often occurs in domestic and peer situations. This type of dynamic can make it harder for people to reach out for help or even know where to begin. The complexity of the survivor situation can vary greatly and can be difficult to navigate. These factors can lead to an issue the numbers to not reflect…the estimated cases that go unreported. Survivors often feel ashamed, embarrassed, afraid…and sadly, at fault. The FJC is here is provide trauma-informed support and services where survivors and their abusers are promised to never cross paths. Call for an appointment:

512-753-2124

Services provided by FJC and partner agencies in one location are the following:

-File a criminal complaint

-Obtained an order of protection

-Receive legal aid for civil matters

-Transportation

-Food and shelter

-Medical care

-Professional counseling

-Spiritual care upon request

MAYA ANGELOU, FAMILY VIOLENCE AND FINDING OUR VOICE

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou 

We are already into the second month of 2021! What a year it has been already. January feels like a bygone blur to me.

I noticed over the holidays, a rather steep drop-off in New Year’s resolutions among my friends and acquaintances. Most only expressed a sincere relief at the thought of leaving 2020 in the dust. It seems planning for the future, in the smallest of ways is too daunting a task in today’s world. Too many unknowns. Fear, isolation, illness, work uncertainty, financial and food insecurity. A country divided in anger and pain…

For so many of the suffering, managing to pick themselves up and keep moving every single day, is nothing short of a miracle.

The poet, author, intellect and icon that has often inspired me through my roughest times is Maya Angelou. Her work has been celebrated, her quotes providing hope, insight and inspiration to all that struggle. I thought since February is Black History Month, I would take time to learn more about her. I am ashamed to say I knew next to nothing. Yes, I knew she toured with “Porgy and Bess” during her younger days. I was also familiar with some of her poems, quotes, and writing…I knew she worked in film. I also knew Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on her birthday. This was only a vague knowledge. It’s empty as memorizing dates and the times table. Knowledge and understanding are not the same thing.

Maya Angelou was born into a world of violence.  She was only eight years old when she was raped by her stepfather. Instead of hiding in shame and fear, as many traumatized children do…she found her voice and told her mother what happened. As a result of this, her two uncles beat the man to death right in front of her. After that, Maya lost her voice. Due to the compounding trauma, she lost the ability to speak for FIVE long years.

Today, can anyone of us imagine Maya Angelou without a voice?

A little black girl living in poverty during the Jim Crow era. Tattered clothing, not enough to eat, with zero opportunity in rural and segregated Stamps, Arkansas. She was bullied and labeled a “simpleton” because she did not speak.

Can you imagine Maya Angelou considered a simple mind?

I want everyone that has endured child abuse, sexual, dating, marital…abuse of any kind to find their voice. I want them to understand what Maya eventually understood. It was not your fault. The shame is not yours to bear. You deserve a voice and a seat at the table. That is why the Friends of the Family Justice Center is here. We want to help everyone in the community find their voice and their footing. There is so much untapped potential in this community. I would argue that survivors of abuse have more insight to offer if given the courage and the chance. Let us see if we can help you or a loved one.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou   

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