April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center’s Clarksville Behavioral Health Team launched their 2021 Clothesline Project in recognition.
The project is a visual display of shirts made by a survivor of violence or by someone who lost a loved one to violence, with the color of each shirt representing a different type of violence. Sexual assault takes a broad range of forms, including sex trafficking, childhood sexual abuse, incest and rape.
Yellow shirts honor survivors of physical assault or domestic violence, blue and green shirts honor survivors of incest or childhood sexual abuse, and red, pink, and orange shirts honor survivors of rape or childhood sexual abuse.
The display will remain until the end of April. For more information, visit mwchc.org.
According to the CDC, when sexual violence involves a victim under 18 years old, it is child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse (CSA) refers to the involvement of a child in sexual activity that they do not fully comprehend, does not consent to or is unable to give informed consent to, or is not developmentally prepared for and cannot consent to.
CSA is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can affect how a person thinks, acts, and feels over a lifetime which may cause both short- and long-term physical, mental and emotional health consequences, the CDC’s website states.
Further, the institution reported one in four girls experiences CSA and nearly one in five women have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, with one in three female rape victims experiencing it for the first time between 11-17 years old. One in eight female rape victims reported that it occurred before age ten.
Nearly one in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, the CDC website states, with one in four male rape victims experiencing it for the first time between the ages of 11-17. About one in four male rape victims reported it occurred before ten years of age, and one in 13 boys will experience CSA in their lifetime.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing any of these types of violence, help is available. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website provides an extensive list of resources, some of which are below for your convenience.
National Helpline for Male Survivors, a service of 1in6 that is an online 24/7 chat hotline, can be found here.
Department of Defense Safe Helpline is a service for members of the U.S. military and their families, operated by RAINN for the Department of Defense. The telephone hotline can be reached at (877)995-5247 and the online chat hotline can be found here.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s telephone number is (800)799-7233 and its online chat hotline can be reached here.
Love is Respect is a service of the National Domestic Violence Hotline that centers young adults from 13-26. Love is Respect can be reached at (866)331-9474 or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can be reached at (800) 843-5678.