ROCHESTER, Minn. - The numbers are staggering: 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lives, 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 16, and almost 70% instances of rape are estimated to be unreported.
The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, dedicated to bringing awareness to this issue.
Neil Dennison is a prevention specialist with Olmsted County Victim Services. He said sexual assault and violence is an issue in this area, with victim services seeeing ove 400 survivors a year.
He said survivors have options when they come forward.
"Whether it's a five minute conversation or they do want to move forward with law enforcement or the court, that's an option they have. Were here for you, we understand, it's not your fault. And it takes a lot of courage to come forward," he said.
Neil said he has seen more people come forward in recent years, not necesarily because of the #MeToo movement, but said people are talking about it more in general.
So how do people raise awareness, exactly? People can wear colored pins supporting the issue but they can also reach out to people in their own lives. Neil said people can take this month to let people in their lives know they are there for them, by saying something like this:
"If anyone has touched you or hurt you, I'm always here for you. A lot of people will hear that and go oh, okay. So if something does happen they know you're a person that is there to help, or if something has happened they know you're a safe person, they can say that happened to me and I want to talk about it," he said.