TYLER, Texas — Before talking about sexual assault, it's important to have a clear understanding of what it is.
Sexual assault is sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent from a person.
One of the biggest questions for victims is they wonder if they have been sexually assaulted or not.
Sexual assault can occur in many forms:
- Forcing someone to perform sexual acts
- Touching above or underneath clothing
- Being forced to watch or share sexually explicit material
The CDC says one in three women, and one in four men experience sexual violence in their lifetime. The highest risk years for sexual assault is between the ages of 12 and 34. So that's really important to point out because it impacts every single person, yet it is highly underreported.
CBS19 spoke with a counselor from CHRISTUS Behavioral Health to understand why.
"Some of the reasons why sexual assault is underreported is due to fear of retaliation, shame, guilt, feeling like the sexual trauma is not significant enough, or also just feeling like too much time has passed," said Amia Taylor. "But if somebody is in immediate danger, they should call 911 and seek safety, look to somebody who does support so somebody who you trust somebody who you can count on to help be with you. as you go to make this report and start your healing journey and process."
Victims also experience depression, anxiety, trauma symptoms and PTSD.
There are also national and local hotlines available like the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the East Texas Crisis Center hotline along with local shelters that can provide help and safety in times of need.