By Kayla Woody, CPN House of Hope DVPI Prevention Specialist

Every 68 seconds, an American is a victim of sexual assault. Every nine minutes, that victim is a child. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual observance during April that brings attention to sexual violence and educates communities about ways to prevent this from happening. To prevent sexual violence, we must understand it.

Sexual violence is any sexual activity that takes place where consent is not provided or freely given, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature. This violence does not discriminate and impacts every community, affecting people of all genders, races, ages and sexual orientations. It also can be perpetrated by anyone. The National Sexual Assault Violence Resource Center states that nearly three out of four adolescents (74 percent) knew their perpetrator. These include current and former partners/spouses, parents/caregivers, family members, co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors and authority figures.

Statistics also show that younger people are at a much higher risk of sexual violence. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network states that individuals 12 to 34 are at the highest risk for rape and sexual assault.

Sexual violence can take multiple forms including rape, attempted rape, sexual coercion, fondling or unwanted touching. Violence can occur in person, online or through technology. It can also happen anywhere. Each year, over 80,000 inmates are raped or sexually assaulted, and 18,900 military members experience unwanted sexual contact or rape. Sexual violence is more common than other crimes on college campuses.

Sexual violence is a health crisis that is preventable. The CPN House of Hope brings education to the community around this issue. The first step is to teach youth in the community about boundaries, body safety and consent. Partnerships exist with multiple Head Start programs and schools to read to students and provide age-appropriate discussions. Another step is to educate individuals on how to respond when sexual violence is disclosed. Victim blaming is a common response to sexual assault and can have devastating effects. The House of Hope provides education on how to respond in a supportive way so that the victim feels validated and can begin the healing process.

To show support to survivors of sexual assault, the House of Hope encourages everyone to participate in Denim Day. This year it will be Wednesday, April 26. Wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors and educate yourself about sexual assault.

To find out more information on sexual assault and how to bring education to communities, reach out to the CPN House of Hope at 405-275-3176.

If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking, intimate partner violence, and/or sexual assault and would like more information, contact the House of Hope at 405-275-3176 or visit us online at