They’re out hanging “crying T-shirts” again in front of the Courthouse. A daily tragedy that doesn’t stop.
This is the scene outside the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport. T-shirts created by those who have been sexually assaulted by men, two-thirds of whom are known by their victims. Every year in Lincoln County over 600 girls and young women are sexually assaulted. And that’s just the one’s who have the courage to report it. It’s estimated that only 45% of sexual assault victims manage to bring themselves to report to local police what happened to them.
Despite the legal consequences to the perpetrator, the hurt, emotional anguish and life changing trauma for the victim goes on for years. For some, even long term mental health counseling and psycho-therapy only slightly blunts its power. It goes that deep. Sexual assault is not just on the body, but to the soul and spirit of the victim. It is among the most cruel ways one person can violate another.
What some call the continued epidemic of sexual assault and abuse continues generation to generation. However, the issue is beginning to emerge in family discussions, social and civic dialog and now more and more in our schools – trying to get to the root cause of sexual assault. Psychologists and psychiatrists say it has a lot to do with male hurt and misdirected anger. Even a desperate fear of losing control of one’s own life. It’s frequently a transfer of physical rage and anger at a particular person, or situation, to an unrelated and thoroughly innocent victim. It’s seldom about sexual conquest. It’s more about power and control. And it’s what makes it deadly – if not physically then certainly emotionally and spiritually.
Speaking before the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, representatives of My Sisters Place and the County District Attorney’s office said meaningful progress is being made to combat and to more successfully deal with Lincoln County’s sexual assault problem. Nurses in our hospitals are getting special training to better comfort and embrace sexual assault victims to lesson the added trauma of receiving treatment. Since clothing is usually confiscated as evidence at the hospital, clothing is now being provided at the hospital to victims so they can return home more appropriately attired. There is now more comprehensive and compassionate assistance from the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office as they seek vindication and justice for the victim and the full force of the law for the perpetrator.
On the prevention and public education front, local womens’ advocacy groups are launching more public outreach programs, including theatrical mock trials that will be conducted, calling on the audiences to act as jurors. Two performances; April 24th at The Yachats Commons, 6-8pm and again April 26th, 6-8pm at Yaquina View School in Newport. For more information call Partnership Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse at 541-575-7890. Other programs include sexual awareness displays at local libraries and at the Lincoln City Cultural Center in the old Delake building on Highway 101.