HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and there are several organizations in the Tennessee valley that offer help to victims.
AshaKiran held a free event earlier today at the North Huntsville Public Library to raise awareness about sexual assault and to remind people that anyone could be a victim.
Emily Howard is the community outreach coordinator for AshaKiran - a Huntsville non-profit that helps foreign-born victims of sexual assault. She says that two out of three sexual assaults go unreported. "We wanted to have this event because there are communities that sexual assault affects that might not get talked about as much. People like the foreign-born and people who are just kind of outside of the mainstream of community and we wanted to highlight the fact that those communities sometimes get overlooked."
Even in ways outside of this event - AshaKiran is having an impact on the Tennessee valley. They want you to know that sexual assault is more common than you think.
Chelsea Sparks is an intern at AshaKiran. She says, "70 percent of people who are autistic, young teens to young adults report from the age of 14 to adulthood being sexually assaulted or sexually harassed in some way."
AshaKiran also wants to make the process of reporting easier for victims and that's why they have translators and licensed professionals to help. But they can't do everything by themselves. They encourage parents, friends, and family to pay attention and speak up when something doesn't feel right.
Sparks says, "Have more conversations. Don't be afraid to speak to your children about what's okay and what's not okay. Who is okay to examine us or touch us. Who is not okay to touch us. A lot of parents might feel like that might be an inappropriate conversation, but there's a way to do it in an age-appropriate way so that kids know what is typical behavior and what's not typical behavior. "