April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and normally, the area Crisis Centers would hold a number of public events to draw attention to that fact. Social distancing in the wake of COVID-19 has caused organizations to cancel such events.

Still, Fannin County Family Crisis Center Community Liaison Sandy Hood wants people to keep in mind the facts about the victims and survivors of sexual assault, as well as victims and survivors of domestic violence and other violent crimes that the center serves.

In a release from the crisis center, the site said one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

“63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police,” the release said. “91%of sexual assault victims are women and 9% are men.”

The release also said that since September of 2019, FCFCC has served at least 32 clients that have experienced sexual assault sometime in their lives.

“COVID-19 is not keeping the Crisis Center from helping victims/survivors,” Hood said in the release. “We are still here to assist anyway we can. The Crisis Center’s 24/7 Hotline is always available, and out office remains open Monday – Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”

Hood also said that sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the country.

“No person should ever have to endure the anguish and indignity of sexual assault. This horrific crime affects Americans of every age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we would like to expand everyone’s awareness on this topic with a goal of ending sexual assault in our homes and communities and offer a call to action,”she continued .

Statistics show that one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Sixty-three percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Ninety-one percent of sexual assault victims are women and nine percent are men.

“Since September 2019, Fannin County Family Crisis Center has served at least 32 clients that have experienced sexual assault sometime in their lives. This number would change dramatically if we were to factor in the 63% of victims that do not report at all. Sexual assault is a dehumanizing form of violence. Even after physical injuries have healed, emotional and mental trauma can persist. Survivors often struggle with lingering anxiety, fear, anger, shame and depression. The devastating aftermath of sexual assault can also harm a survivor’s relationships with their loved ones,” Hood said.

As grim as all of those statistics are, Hood said, there aer things people can do to help.

People can become aware of the devastation caused by sexual assault.

They can also become aware of the problem and educate themselves. And they can be aware of their surroundings and resist the urge to ignore red flag signs or behaviors.

“We can educate younger generations on being safe from this terrible crime and that it is never their fault if something happens to them. Educating before an assault occurs is prevention. Teach children that they have a right to say,” No” to anyone that is hurting them and then to get away and stay away from such a person regardless if it is another child or an adult. Teach children that they MUST always tell a trusted adult and to keep telling until someone does something about the matter. Teach children young that it is not okay for anyone to touch them where their bathing suit covers up,“ Hood stressed.

She said people can also help by financially supporting the local Sexual Assault Program at the Fannin County Family Crisis Center so that they can continue to provide awareness of the problem, provide services to victims and continue the work in providing encouragement and healing to survivors who deal with the aftermath for years to come.

In addition, people can learn how to react if someone discloses to them that they have been sexually assaulted.

“Stay calm and offer the Crisis Center as a resource. Some appropriate responses would be: “I believe you,” “It is not your fault,” “I am so sorry this happened to you,” or “I know a place that can help. Would you like for me to drive you there?” she said.

People can also likee the Fannin County Crisis Center on Facebook at Fannin CrisisCenter and watch during the month of April for more information on SAAM.

Or they could host a fundraiser on Facebook or other social medias for the Fannin County Family Crisis Center.

“This is a good way to support us and get our message out too. This is also a great way to do something to make a positive change while being at home during social distancing. Fundraisers could be in honor of a person or someone’s birthday, in support of SAAM or in memory of a loved one. Get creative and bring awareness,” she said.

Hood added that it important that the Crisis Center continues to have the public’s support during this pandemic.

“There are many needs of victims that grant money does not cover. Many times, our clients need a safe place to stay while locating a family member or friend they can stay with, or maybe they need clothing, hygiene products, food or other necessities because they found the opportunity to leave with merely the clothes on their backs. There are so many needs when mothers leave with their children and whatever they can carry. If you would like to help victims and show your support during SAAM, visit our website at fccrisiscenter.org and click on donate. You can also mail a check to 118 East Sam Rayburn Drive, Bonham, Texas 75418.”

The Fannin County Family Crisis Center is a non-profit organization. It provides 24-hour hotline, crisis intervention by trained advocates 24/7, assistance with protective orders, referrals to long term counseling, assistance with Crime Victims Compensation, transportation to a safe shelter, hospital, court or law enforcement office and public education and presentations. It also offers parenting classes and women’s empowerment classes.