YSU holds march to raise awareness about sexual assault - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

YSU holds march to raise awareness about sexual assault

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Studies have shown that one-in-six women will experience sexual violence.

On Friday, a group is marching in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The event is called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. Men will be wearing women's high heel shoes as they march to remind people that rape, sexual assault and violence is affecting communities locally and around the world. 

While the most recent records show that the number of reported rapes in the tri-county area are relatively low, those numbers don't tell the who story behind sexual violence. Just ask Dawn Powell, Program Manager at the Youngstown Rape Crisis Center.

"In our small area our statistics are startling compared to even Cleveland. For being such a small area it's an epidemic in our area and we definitely need to address it," said Powell.

National surveys show that 1-in-five women will experience sexual violence while in college. That less than 5%  are reported, and 85% of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance.   

Powell says their agency is  handling as many as 500 cases a year. "I think our statistics are much higher than what they report now,  because people don't want to report for a lot of reasons. Fear of retaliation, concerns about reputation and fear of being blamed for what happened to them," Powell said.

Powell says there are even more disturbing numbers. "I looked at our statistics this year and it looks like kids under the age of nine is a lot more than where I've seen it before."

Powell's agency was taking part in the march at YSU to help raise awareness and to reach out to victims. "We can offer them whatever support they may need to deal with emotional issues, to deal with legal issues,  we help them through the system in anyway we can," according to Powell.

Sexual violence is traumatic and can be life-altering. "People who have been victims years ago start to have symptoms and they need somebody to talk to," Powell said.

Organizers of the YSU march say the turnout this year was more than double from last year.

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