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Letter: Prevention of sexual assault achieveable in North Dakota

In 2021, 1,139 primary and 292 secondary victims of sexual assault were served by 18 domestic violence and sexual assault crisis centers in North Dakota.

Letter to the editor FSA

Let’s talk about sexual assault.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities on how to prevent it.

Sexual Violence is a broad term that includes all unwanted sexual contact and activities. It is

a serious public health issue that affects all communities and citizens of North Dakota, without regard for age, race, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity or social, ethnic, geographic or economic differences.

When hearing about sexual assault, it’s easy to think, “Well, that would never happen here,” but it is happening, right here in North Dakota. In 2021, 1,139 primary and 292 secondary victims of sexual assault were served by 18 domestic violence and sexual assault crisis centers in North Dakota. Furthermore, sexual assault is the most under-reported crime, meaning that those numbers are likely a fraction of the true amount of victims and survivors in North Dakota.

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However, prevention is possible, and simple acts can make a difference. I encourage North Dakotans to have informed conversations about sexual violence, learn what it means to be an active bystander, and challenge social norms that enable sexual harassment, abuse and assault. By doing so, we can prevent violence before it occurs.

Tara Lea Muhlhauser is executive director of the Council on Abused Women’s Services, North Dakota

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