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April is designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month in California

April is associated with spring, and a chance to open up windows to let more light and fresh air inside. In a way, this image of spring is applicable to April’s national designation as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sexual abuse or molestation is not a topic that many people feel comfortable talking about. But silence only allows the problem to persist and get worse. That’s why all Californians should participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month: to expose this issue to the light of day in order to help victims heal and to prevent future assaults.

Chances are good that if you have not been a victim of sexual assault, you at least know someone who has. Statistics show that by the age of 18, one in four girls will be sexually assaulted. For boys, that number is one in six.

And many people mistakenly assume that rapists and molesters are strangers who attack opportunistically. Sadly, 80 percent of rape victims are actually abused by someone they know; and often, someone they have previously trusted. This could be a parent or other relative, a teacher or coach, a priest or other religious leader or a healthcare provider.

Sexual abuse or molestation can happen to nearly anyone, regardless of age or gender; but children and women are at particular risk. When sexual assault occurs, victims are often left with long-lasting psychological, emotional and physical scars. Speak with a San Diego molestation attorney.

But it’s important to remember that if you have been a victim of sexual assault, you are not powerless. In addition to pursuing criminal charges against your abuser, you may also be able to hold him or her liable in a sexual molestation civil lawsuit.

Even those of us who have never been personally victimized by this horrible crime should participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Only by opening up communication and breaking the silence can we prevent future assaults and help victims heal.

Source: Lake County News, “April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month; community asked to help stop the violence,” Sheri Young, Apr. 1, 2013

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