Sex Assault, Domestic Violence Victims Proclaim Survival; an Awareness Day Thanked Law Enforcement and Supported Survivors

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL, County Line staff writer

Ann had been abused by a family member as a child. She then was mentally and physically abused by men she had relationships with.

But Ann, who did not disclose her last name, has moved past those experiences.

"I don't like to be labeled as a victim. It makes me feel weak," she told the audience at the Sexual Assault Awareness Day commemoration April 7.

"I am a survivor!" she declared.

Amanda, 18, a senior at Clay High School, shared how she was "a secondary victim of sexual assault."

The Clay County Line does not generally identify people who have been victims of sexual violence, so their full names were not used.

Amanda's mother had been sexually assaulted at gunpoint years ago, she said. For years there had been a general lack of communication between the women, she said.

"She had no life in her."

When Amanda was 17, her mother disclosed the horrible story of her rape. She "confided in the pain" she had felt for so many years.

With the help of counselors at Quigley House, Clay County's domestic violence and sexual assault center, Amanda's mother is healing, and the mother and daughter have a strong relationship, Amanda said.

Ann and Amanda were special speakers at a recent program that paid tribute to those who work to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. It also recognized those who had survived their ordeals. The theme for the event was "Talk About it, Prevent It."

Special honorees were the members of the Clay County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit. Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler assembled the group shortly after taking office in January. The members investigate only domestic violence and crimes against children and the elderly.

"Thanks for your tireless efforts in helping to end sexual violence," said Sharon Youngerman, executive director of Quigley House, to the unit members before giving each a sexual assault awareness pin. …