By Tabitha Barr / Editor in Chief
|BrightHouse 24-Hour Crisis Line||800-701-3630 or 620-663-2522|
|BrightHouse Office Line||620-665-3630|
|HutchCC Title IX||620-665-3512|
April has come and gone, but, as it was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it brought awareness to something important. According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, in 2018, there were 1,349 rapes reported in Kansas. Roughly 63% of rapes are not reported, 80% of victims who reported knew their rapist, and 97% of rapists will never see jail time.
Sexual assault is something that happens with regularity, yet people often shy away from discussing it. It is unwanted sexual contact or behavior that occurs without consent.
With a topic that is so vulnerable, it’s not something that gets talked about enough, and the knowledge is lacking.
BrightHouse, a non-profit company that seeks to help those who have been victims of sexual assault and eliminate it by serving the Hutchinson community. BrightHouse representative Kaitlin said that their mission is “to be here to support anyone who’s a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking, (etc.) We want to be here to support them and their families.”
BrightHouse is a resource available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those who need to reach out for whatever they need at that moment. They have many ways of communication, such as; a 24-hour hotline, advocates on-call, support groups, website chats, and Facebook Messenger chats for those who need support.
In their efforts, BrightHouse wants to “help create a community where people are not afraid to talk about sexual assault,” Kaitlin said. They want people to be educated and know that it’s not something to sweep under the rug.
There are so many underreported crimes of sexual assault because of the emotional trauma that is placed on a person.
Hutchinson Community College works closely with BrightHouse to have an open relationship where students can seek help when they need it.
Christopher Lau, HutchCC’s Coordinator of Advising, Career Dev. and Counseling, knows the mental turmoil that can brew through a person’s mind.
“We believe it’s critical that people receive support when they are going through something that is difficult,” Lau said. “Sexual assault is a specific type of trauma that generally produces feelings of shame and guilt on the part of the victim.”
“Therapy is a place where a person can share what they’ve gone through and have a listening ear who’s not going to be judgmental… and hopefully, over time, help that individual see they are not to blame for what has happened to them.”
Having a month to educate the public and bring awareness to the topic can help people see that we shouldn’t shun the subject, but make it safe to talk about to help those who need it most. A person might not think it affects them, but it most likely does.
“We want people to know we are here… we want to empower people to take back their power,” Kaitlin said.