Your Health 4-25-13 Sexual Violence

Confronting sexual violence is a major task that takes a community effort.

Many people consider rape or sexual assault to be an unspeakable crime.

But, the statistics of sexual violence are far too alarming to be silent.

ABC 33/40's Linda Mays finds out what you can do to help end sexual violence.


{} A sexual assault. It's alarming how frequently the crime happens.

{}Valerie Shayman with the Crisis Center in Birmingham says, "A lot of our society thinks that survivors are teenage girls and that's not the case. There are little children being affected." "Anyone can be assaulted and that's not to scare anybody. But to say that no one is safe."

Every two minutes in United States, one out of every 5 women and one out of every 33 men become victims of by sexual violence.

Meg McGlamery, the Director of Sexual Assault Support Services at the Crisis Center in Birmingham says sexual assault has had a particularly devastating impact on our community.

In 2012, The Crisis Center's Rape Response and its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners provided 269 forensic exams, 433 counseling sessions, 12 legal accompaniments and responded to 1,369 hotline calls,

Shayman says, "Some are calling because they just been assaulted and need an exam. Or they could be calling because an assault happened years ago and they're just coming to terms with it and need to talk with someone."

Rape Response received 269 new sexual assault cases last year.

Bear in mind, the number doesn't include the countless cases that go unreported.

Shayman says, "There is a lot of stigma associated with reporting a sexual assault and there's a lot of complications in the legal system that prevent the survivor from reporting."

{}Rape Response says, it's time to talk about sexual violence and speak out.

Rape Response and its volunteers plan a series of events to bring awareness of sexual assault... including the display of the Clothesline Project at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

These T-shirts speak volumes.

They were decorated by sexual assault survivors, family members of survivors and allies to show the impact of this crime.

It's another way individuals are speaking out against violence.

Debbie Morgette, UAB Assistant Director of Student Engagement who volunteered to coordinate this event on campus looks over the shirts.

{}Morgette describes one shirt saying. "I think these were lips that were sewn shut and now the person is saying we need to break that silence and talk about sexual violence, domestic violence, dating relationship violence and stalking."


The support the Crisis Center's Rape Response offers to the community is extraordinary.

Advocates and specially trained nurses see every survivor through the entire process.

Shayman says, "What we do there is, if an assault occurs within 72 hours we go ahead and see survivors in our clinic, a lot emergency rooms, they go ahead and refer their patients as well. It's just a warm, empowering environment."

Rape response will also provide free confidential counseling and legal advocacy. All free of charge for survivors.

Shayman says, "Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important because we want to encourage change throughout our community and in our country. So we need to inform others about what is going on and start breaking down the stereotypes."


The effects of sexual violence extend beyond the victim.

Survivor advocates say it affects the whole community, and it will take everyone working together to end sexual violence.

Shayman says, "The best way that you can help is make a stand in your community, start reaching out to survivors you know. stop the victim blaming that where it all starts.

Our society tends to blame the victim and no one ever deserves to be hurt in this way."


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but, the awareness and education won't come to an end as the month closes out.

{}For more information on how you can volunteer for Crisis Center's Rape Response Services and for information on rape prevention education and trainings, call 205.458.8981.

You can also go online to

{}We also want to share two other important phone numbers with you.

If you need help in moment of crisis, here's the Crisis Center Hotline at

205 323-7777 or if you or a loved one need to talk to someone about a sexual assault call Rape Response Hotline at 205 323-7273.