Editor’s note: This story discusses sexual assault, including a first-person account. Individuals triggered by this article or in need of help are encouraged to seek support. The Maui Sexual Assault Center can be reached at 808-873-8624 (24-hour hotline) and Childandfamilyservice.org.
Chances are, you know a victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault and rape, sometimes referred to as a silent epidemic, impacts an untold, large portion of society. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a leading national nonprofit addressing the prevention and response to sexual violence, rape is the most under-reported crime in the nation, and 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. This culture of silence notwithstanding, studies have found that one in five women and one in 67 men will be raped in their lifetime, the NSVRC states, and one in two women and one in five men will experience a form of sexual violence other than rape.
April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, is a time to address this silent epidemic and the complex societal and cultural issues surrounding sexual assault and violence.
Mayor Michael Victorino issued a proclamation recognizing the month on Monday morning to a small group gathered on the Great Lawn at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College. The crowd included students and staff of the college, members of the public, and social service organizations serving Maui County, especially relating to issues of sexual and domestic violence.
The mayor began by recounting his experience as a victim of sexual assault, a story he said he had never shared until then.
“I have never told even my wife of 43 years this story,” he said. “It’s a true story. It was about a young man who’s 13 years old, and four guys jumped him and took his clothes off and played with his privates. Thirteen years old. And I’ve never told this story because I’ve always kept it inside of that person. I never wanted anyone to hear about it. But it was me that it was done to – it was me.
“For years, it stayed in me,” he continued. “Never talked about it, not even to my priest – no one. So I understand what you’re talking about, sexual awareness and abuse. It should never happen to anyone… it should never happen. Never. I would like to continue working to say that it would never happen in the future. Remember: respect. And I talk about respect all the time. This is the ultimate respect, when someone says no.”
To read the full article written by Axel Beers, click HERE