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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

With the advent of April comes the beauty of spring, a symbol of life, hope, and growth blooming anew. In this time where the world reclaims its vibrancy and vitality, we at Focus want to recognize survivors of sexual assault, and provide resources and support for survivors and loved ones to help reclaim their beauty, too.

 April is recognized as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Each year, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) heads this campaign with national, state, and community advocates to promote awareness sexual violence, provide resources for survivors and their loved ones, and coalesce to fight for social justice and policy reform on a political level. You may recognize some of the most popular events - Day of Action, Take Back the Night, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and Denim Day are all examples of nationwide demonstrations in support of sexual violence survivors.

According to the NSVRC, one in three women and one in five men will experience a display of sexual violence in their lifetime - this can include (but is not limited to) rape/attempted rape, battery, unwanted sexual contact, harassment, stalking, etc. Survivors of sexual assault are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use, and re-victimization than the general population.

And yet, despite the prevalence of sexual violence, rape is estimated to be the most under-reported crime, with 63% of all cases going unreported to police. Many survivors report being unwilling to come forward and accuse their perpetrator due to feared reaction from family or community, fear of violence from the perpetrator, fear of lack of police support d/t minimal available evidence, or fear of reliving the traumatic incident again when interrogated in court. 

Survivors, please know: You are not alone. You are not diminished by what happened to you; your value as a human is independent from your abuse. You did not cause your abuse, nor did you deserve what happened to you. There is no shame in needing help and support from your community as you work for healing - chances are, you’re not the only one on your street that has experienced the very same thing. If you are in need of support there are both local and national resources available to you.

  • Resources available at Focus Integrative Centers Focus features several avenues for recovery from sexual assault, including individual therapy with trauma-focused and EMDR-trained therapists, as well as a weekly Women’s Trauma Support Group led by Dr. Catherine Zook-Bell. The group is open to women ages 18 and older who wish to work through similar issues in a safe and supportive environment. Call 865-622-7116 for further details on services offered through Focus.

  • Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee Formerly known as the Knoxville Rape Crisis Center, SACET is a Knoxville-based service provided by Helen Ross McNabb that serves 16 counties in the east Tennessee region. SACET provides sexual assault nurse examinations, therapy, prevention education, and advocacy in east TN. Additionally, SACET also sponsors a crisis hotline, which can be accessed 24 hours a day at 865-522-7273.

  • National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline Managed by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), this network helps connect you with local resources in your area, including rape crisis centers, health facilities that are known for compassionate treatment of sexual assault survivors, and referrals for long-term support. Call (800) 656-HOPE (4673), or for their online chat go to .

  • The NSVRC Directory The National Sexual Violence Resource Center maintains a online database of the multidisciplinary resources in every US state and territory. Survivors may navigate these resources by specifying what kind of support they need (e.g., Federal Agency, State Agency, survivor support organizations, campus-based resources, faith-based resources, LGBTQ support, technical assistance providers, etc.) and the area in which they would like to receive this assistance.