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My Turn, Renee Bradshaw: Family Crisis Council here to help domestic violence, sexual assault victims

By Renee Bradshaw

The Family Crisis Council of Rowan is the only domestic violence and sexual assault Agency in Rowan County. We were established in 1978 and have been serving Rowan County since that time.

We did not close our doors or stop any of our services during the COVID pandemic. We offer a 24/7 crisis line, emergency shelter for victims fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. We assist victims with e-filing of protective orders and court support during the domestic court hearings. We provide professional education for the school system and any agency or entity that needs training involving our services. All of our services are free, even free transportation to another shelter or another location for safety. We also provide group and individual counseling and case management for referrals to help victims to become self sufficient and live violence free lives.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact, harassment or exposure.  This can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will. 

People may use force, threats, manipulation or coercion to commit sexual violence. Sexual violence can be committed without the knowledge or consent of the victim or against a person who is unable to give consent.

Most victims know the offenders. They commit sexual assaults against their friends, family, classmates, dates, neighbors and co-workers. They are rich, middle class and poor as well as adolescents, adults and elders. They may victimize people of the opposite gender or their own.

If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted, you can help. Believe what they tell you. Let the victim know it is not their fault.

Stay calm and listen. Find out what is needed by the person. Your support is what they need. Listen to their needs and try to help them with what they want, not want you think they need. Help the victim decide what to do next. Most victims are confused and have high anxiety because they trusted the person that assaulted them. 

Suggest calling Family Crisis Council help line at 704-636-4718 and selecting No. 1. The Family Crisis Council can help them through this crisis. Everything is confidential. We can assist them with steps and help them to feel safe and with counseling.

Let the person decide who to tell, if anybody. Sexual assault can leave a victim feeling out of control. Allow them to make choices when possible.

In the United States, one in five women will be raped in her lifetime, and nearly one in two women and 1 in 5 men will be sexually victimized other than rape.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates one in six victims of sexual assault are under the age of 12. Half of all the rapes of women occur before the age of 18, and 72% of victims are sexually assaulted by someone they know.

Our top donors for 2020 in order of giving amounts were United Way, the Woodson Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Leon Levine Foundation and BOA Foundation. Because of these and the many individuals and churches that have supported us this past year, we have been there for the many victims of sexual assault. 

Remember, if you are sexually assaulted, get a good description of the attacker, do not shower or alter the crime scene, call 911 as soon as possible and call Family Crisis Council for assistance at 704-636-4718 and press No. 1. We are the source for you 24/7.

Renee Bradshaw is executive director of the Family Crisis Council. 

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