By: Gina-Marie Miraglia
April is a month that represents many observances, but above all is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According the American Psychological Association; approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abuse before turning 18 years old. However, these ratios are highly deceiving. Only about 16% of sexual assault crimes are reported to authorities; meaning the remaining 84% go undocumented.
Sexual assault and drug addiction are innately connected. Those who have been sexually assaulted are at a higher risk of misusing or abusing drugs and alcohol than the general public. When the negative emotions associated with the trauma are not constructively worked through, drugs and alcohol are commonly used as means to cope with feelings of depression, self-blame, and flashbacks. According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN); victims of assault or abuse are 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana, 6 times more likely to use cocaine, and 10 times more likely to use other drugs.
Similarly, addiction can cause an individual to become more vulnerable to sexual assault. Thus, creating a vicious cycle. If someone you know is the victim of sexual assault, there are warning signs for substance abuse that you should be aware of. Behavior changes can be expected but some changes can be dangerous such as; spending time with different groups of people, social isolation, or suicidal comments. Physical changes can also indicate warning signs for substance abuse. These changes could include; sudden weight loss or gain, inability to sit still, or abnormal sleeping patterns.
To take a stand and help grow awareness of Sexual Assault Awareness, wear denim Wednesday April 25th, 2018 on Denim Day or visit the NO MORE Campaign at https://nomore.org/campaigns/saam/ to download and post a picture with NO MORE sign.
If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual assault and needs help or support call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected to a local RAINN affiliate.
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