Help is available locally for sexual-assault victims

Zoe Greszler • Sep 26, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Sexual violence can affect a person’s health in many ways — including long-term physical and mental health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“For example, victims may experience chronic pain, headaches and sexually transmitted diseases. They are often fearful or anxious and may have problems trusting others. Anger and stress can lead to eating disorders, depression and even suicidal thoughts,” the CDC website reports.


Help for victims

Renee Leber, therapist for Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, said there are several trauma-focused therapists within local communities.

“It is important to find a specialty-trained therapist as well as to have a good fit between the patient and the provider to ensure a therapeutic experience,” she said.

“Victims, who can be both male and female, can contact local police, hospitals or (a) children services agency to start the process and gain guidance on what resources are available to them. Fisher-Titus (Medical Center), in partnership with Huron County Department of Job & Family Services, provide the Center for Hope & Healing — Advocacy for Children and Families where interviews are held in a patient-friendly environment.

“If the case needs to take legal action, then there are victim advocates through the justice system. It is important for the victims as well as other family members to feel supported during this process and to work through their trauma in counseling. There are several therapists in different agencies that can provide trauma focused therapy,” Leber said.

Here are some of the resources available to victims, including young girls, throughout Huron County who may have suffered from such an experience:

• Students can speak to school nurses, family physician or a nurse at the hospital

• The Huron County Victims Assistance Program offers a 24-hour rape crisis program hotline at 419-663-3839. This service is for a victim of any age.

• The OCOSA (Ohio Coalition On Sexual Assault) provides information and referrals during business hours at 614-268-3322.

• The Tri County SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) program serving Erie, Huron and Ottawa counties offers community and school presentations providing sexual assault, prevention techniques and steps to take following a sexual assault. Tamara Kilbridge, a SANE nurse, can be contacted at 800-342-1177 or at 247 Columbus Ave., Suite 319, Sandusky.

• RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) is a 24-hour computer system that will relay calls to the nearest rape crises center at 1-800-656-HOPE. A live chat is also available at https://www.rainn.org.

• Those struggling with the mental and emotional aftermath of sexual violence can also anonymously text “4hope” to 741741 and should receive a response within five minutes.


By the numbers

According last year’s Huron County Community Health Assessment (CHA):

• In 2017, about 7 percent of adults in Huron County, or more than 3,000 people, reported being forced into a sexual activity they didn’t want, up from 6 percent in 2014. That number spiked to 13 percent of all women in the county and 1 in every 5 of those with incomes less than $25,000.

Of those people forced into sexual activity, only 12 percent said they reported it.

• Some of those surveyed reported knowing someone involved in sex trafficking.

• The assessment also questioned the county youth, via the school systems, however, two unnamed districts removed any questions about the students’ sexual activity. That data showed that of those surveyed, 3 percent of the county’s high-school students said they were physically forced to have sex, which is less than the state’s 8 percent, but still a matter of concern for the area.

• 4 percent of youths reported an adult or someone five years older than them touched them sexually

• Another 2 percent of students said an adult or someone five years older than them tried to make them touch them sexually

• 2 percent of youths reported being raped, less than 1 percent of which were raped by an adult or someone five years older than them

• 5 percent of Huron County youth reported they were touched in an “unsafe sexual way,” increasing to 10 percent of all girls

* 2 percent of youth were sexually bullied (used nude or semi-nude pictures to pressure someone to have sex that didn’t want to, were blackmailed, intimidates or exploited by another person)

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