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posted: 11/26/2012 5:00 AM

Start new dialogue on sexual abuse

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Dear sexual assault survivor,

In the heat of the election season the word "rape" was recklessly tossed into debates and dialogues, not to create awareness of the prevalence or seriousness of rape and sexual assault in our community, but to score political points. For that, we apologize. These conversations lacked any understanding of the nature of your experience and undermine the very real facts about sexual assault: that one in five girls and one in three boys will experience a sexual assault before age 18, and that a woman is raped in the U.S. every 1.3 minutes.

We, too, are tired of politicians telling survivors how they should feel about pregnancies resulting from rape, having the audacity to ask whether or not a rape was legitimate, and suggesting that many women either lie about being raped or somehow asked for it to happen to them. We are tired of conversations that ignore the personal nature of your experience and story. This is a human rights issue and we want you to know that we are with you. We are here for you.

A new national dialogue is necessary to tackle the real questions that need to be answered about rape and sexual assault. How do we prevent this horrific crime from happening? How do we make sure that survivors have access to support and services they need to heal from their trauma when it does happen? How can we change the misguided cultural perceptions about rape and sexual assault?

Please do not lose hope! Regardless of where you find yourself on your healing journey, Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center is a place where you will find unwavering, unconditional belief and support. Our support line is available 24/7 at (847) 872-7799. You can also find more information www.ZCenter.org.

Amy Junge

Executive director

Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center

Gurnee

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