Tami Griffith: Sexual assault exists even in the high country
April 4, 2011
Residents of Grand County may think they are insulated from the unpleasant realities of sexual assault and abuse.
But living in small towns in the high country is no guarantee that locals will avoid the life-ruining realities of sexual assault.
In fact, in the last year the Grand County courts have handled two high-profile cases of sexual assault in which the victims were left to grapple with the crime for the rest of their lives and the assailants were left to spend years behind bars.
Sexual assault is assault of a sexual nature on an individual or any sexual contact without consent. This includes inappropriate touching, attempted rape, rape, or child molestation.
In 2007, there were more than 248,000 victims of sexual assault in the United States. Of those, 80 percent of the victims were under the age of 30. It is estimated that females have a one-in-six chance of being victimized by this crime.
Sixty percent of the attacks were never reported to the police. However, if the attack is reported, 50 percent of the attackers are arrested. Out of those arrested, 80 percent are prosecuted, and if there is a felony conviction, 65 percent spend time in jail.
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Two-thirds of the assaults were committed by someone who is an acquaintance or friend of the victim.
A sexual assault can affect a person physically by causing nausea and vomiting, headache, insomnia, self-mutilation and sexual dysfunction. Emotional and psychological issues include: shock, denial, anger, detachment, nightmares, guilt and embarrassment. Without proper help, these issues can affect a person for life.
Anyone who is sexually assaulted should get to a safe environment, away from the attacker. Victims should know that the assault is NOT THEIR FAULT; sexual assault is a crime of hate, control, and anger, not one of lust or sexual desire. Call 911 or go to the local emergency department.
The attack should be reported to the police and victims should receive medical care.
It’s important not to brush teeth, or hair, not use the restroom, not take a shower, or change clothes. If a victim thinks drugs have been involved, request a urine test at the medical facility.
Currently, St. Anthony Granby Medical Center is working with the Advocates (victims’ assistance team) and local law enforcement to secure a grant for a local SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) program. This would allow medical staff to be trained in the correct way to deal with victims and collect evidence for sexual assault cases.
In addition, the SART training would provide education and training for all of those involved in dealing with victims of sexual assault. The goal of the SART team is to provide care and support to the victim and secure evidence properly so that justice can be served.
Victims are not required by law to report an attack and there is usually not a time limit in which to report an incident. However, in order to prosecute, it is best to report an assault as soon as possible.
Many victims state that after reporting an attack and prosecuting the attacker, they feel a sense of empowerment and are able to close that chapter in their lives and move forward.
For free confidential counseling 24 hrs/day, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at: 1-800-656-HOPE, or call The Advocates Victims Assistance Team in Hot Sulphur Springs: 970-725-3412.
For more information, contact the above numbers or St. Anthony Granby Medical Center at 970-887-7400.
– Tami Griffith, CFNP-BC of Granby Medical Center, writes Health Care Perspective every other week as a public service.
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