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~ Orannhawk 

A few months ago, I stepped into a small

vintage shop, curious to see what they offered.

Music filtered through the small space, and

the lyrics to a song I vaguely recognized, sent

chills through me. The words followed my

quick exit, pushing the triggers from the past.

A quick search uncovered the song, Silence is 

Golden, and as I read the first two stanzas of

the song, I remembered the group was one

my older sibling enjoyed.

Oh don't it hurt deep inside
To see someone do something to her
Oh don't it pain to see someone cry
How especially if that someone is her

Silence is golden
But my eyes still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see

*Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, Recorded by The Four Seasons

More than ever before, we are at a precipice regarding sexual assaults. Silence is not golden, especially when you consider the fact that sexual assault statistics continue to rise, and literally no one is an exception. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact, exposure and voyeurism. From children to seniors, straight or 
members of the LGBTQIA community, it is vital that we learn how to be proactive as individuals, and as communities to protect ourselves, and understand how to prevent it.

It can be terrifying to talk about sexual abuse, and the reasons can vary from fear of retaliation, embarrassment, uncertainty of judgment, accusations of causing the abuse, as well as sharing your pain with someone who does not believe you, among other things.

The first individual I told of my rape did not believe me, in fact I was accused of lying, and I had better keep my mouth shut. In other words, stay silent. Some years later, after enduring the abuse again, the same narrative was tossed in my face, along with the implication that I had obviously done something to cause it to happen, “if it actually did.”

If you are seeing signs of sexual abuse, do not assume it will simply stop. It most cases, it gets worse. 

Learn to listen with an open heart, without judgement, without blame. Listen, and listen without asking leading questions. Reassure them you will do what you can to keep them safe and absolutely reinforce that they are not at fault. Regardless of the age of the individual, they are in a trauma state. Be calm, patient, and supportive. With children, teens and young adults, document as much as possible, in their own words. Have a listing of who you can contact in your area for additional assistance.

It is also vital to understand that sexual assault and abuse can be presented by an abuser that may perceived in ways that are not always obvious to the victim, especially if the victim is a child or young teenager. This is an area that is often difficult to understand, but unfortunately, it does happen, and often the victim is unaware of the magnitude of the inappropriate action until much later.

Unfortunately, the individuals who abuse are more often to be acquaintances, family members, and people we have placed our trust in, as well as complete strangers. Being aware of the signs of sexual assault and abuse are positive steps to recognizing and assisting. Below are links to websites outlining information for children, teens, college age adults and adults.

It is not a time to stay silent. We must speak up for ourselves, and those who need us to stand beside them. We cannot be silent. With sexual assault, silence is not golden, it is 
tarnished and broken, and it is time to speak out loudly, and with conviction.

Silence is simply not an option.