Santa Barbara- S County

Sexual Assault Victims Urged to Report Crimes

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - April is Sexual Assault Awareness month.

The national and local campaigns aim to raise awareness of both the crime of sexual assault and the victims it leaves behind.

National and local statistics reveal less than ten percent of all cases of sexual assault are ever reported to law enforcement or anywhere else.

"For a lot of people there is a stigma", says Shannon Chavez of the Santa Barbara County North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center in Santa Maria, "there is a lot of fear about reporting."

"People can come to us, to the Center, for counseling and other services without reporting", Chavez says, "we do talk to them about how to report, and what that would mean and we would be with them through the whole process."

The national Sexual Assault Awareness campaign for the month of April is designed to focus public attention on what remains a mostly silent crime.

"Unfortunately that still exists", Chavez says, "the more education we do, the more we try to let people know that its never the victim's fault whether you are three years old, 25 years old or 80 years old, its not your fault, you're not the one who perpetrated this crime against you."

There is a 24-hour "Hot Line" for victims of sexual assault or their families in northern Santa Barbara County, the number is (805) 928-3554.


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