Beginning The Healing Process
Advocates say victims of sexual violence never completely recover, but there are steps to begin the healing process.
Sexual Violence Team Lead at CADA Kimberly Phifer said, "Victims need to be believed, they need support, they need help with safety planning, and obviously their safety, their health, and their wellbeing is our primary focus."
Kimberly Phifer the Sexual Violence Team Lead at CADA works with survivors of sexual violence of all ages, helping them find resources and support to begin the healing process.
But among the first step is connecting with victims... which includes police, hospital or university campus to show that there is help.
Phifer said, "Sexual assault is not something you just get over; it changes you fundamentally, you don't have the same trust, you don't have the same sense of safety, you're very person has been violated."
In the majority of cases, sexual violence is perpetrated by someone the victim knows and can lead to both mental and physical effects.
Phifer says it does take time for survivors to be willing to open up, but in the meantime, it's important to provide support and reassure the victim what happened isn't their fault.
Phifer said, "This was done to you, and so it is the perpetrator's fault. It was not yours; it was done to you."
For CADA, a focus has become primary prevention; working to involving as many people possible to education and take steps to stop sexual violence before it happens.
And even though there might be more reports, Phifer says that doesn't indicate there are more cases happening.
Phifer said, "[It's a] Very under-reported crime, and what it means is victims are suddenly recognizing that there are resources out there."
--KEYC News 12