Sexual assault is among the most heinous and under-reported acts committed against another person. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) the statistics surrounding these assaults are horrifying.

Every 98 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault. Sexual Violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. While we’re making progress- the number of assaults has fallen by more than half since 1993 — even today, only 6 out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison.

The media seemed to have a recent uptick in covering these stories after the sensationalized case concerning Bill Cosby. Since then, other public persons such as Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nasser have been accused of misconduct. While the desired legal outcome for many of the victims expired with the statue of limitations; a new sense of urgency arose for those who could still get legal or social justice.

During the height of this media coverage, the #MeToo campaign that encourages victims of sexual assault to share their stories in solidarity and support for one another, spread like wildfire on twitter. It was reported that over 1.7 million men and women shared the hashtag on the social media platform. Aside from the media frenzy that surrounded these incidents, the severity of this issue reaches closer to home.

Number_of_People_Victimized_Each_Year 122016

The victims of sexual assault are our sisters, brothers, neighbors and children. The statistics are just reflections of reported cases. Cases that can be identified by a person that has not been silenced by fear- the fear of being shamed, ostracized or not believed.  People often wait so long to report an incident, their right to justice is forfeited by time.

The silence is deafening. Whether the resistance is to protect family members, careers or powerful organizations- the message still remains. Victims are made to suffer while the perpetrator is free to inflict the same pain on others. Evidence is synonymous with credibility and time is of the essence.

Breaking the silence among victims is complex and multifaceted. The circumstances regarding each assault is different, along with its victim. The truth of the matter is, the outcomes will not always be what one will hope for. The devastation that is left behind in any sexual assault case will follow all parties because that is what it is designed to do. Resolution goes beyond a hashtag or a social media fad.

Creating safe places in homes is a place to start. Referring a friend in need to the appropriate resources can save lives. Silence doesn’t have to be permanent.

If you need help or know someone who does: visit RAINN or call the confidential  National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.