YWCA's 2 Minute 5K brings awareness to sexual assault rate 

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Every two minutes, a man or woman in the United States is sexually assaulted. It’s a sobering statistic. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and YWCA Oklahoma City brings awareness to how those statistics affect residents of the Oklahoma City metropolitan community.

Statistics show that Oklahoma has an alarming rate of individuals affected by sexual violence. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), released in 2010, shows almost 25 percent of women in the state have experienced rape and 48 percent have experienced some other type of sexual violence. Nationally, according to the same study, nearly 25 percent of men have been raped or experienced other sexual violence.

YWCA developed a 5K race to help bring these facts into the spotlight. The 2 Minute 5K and Kiddie K race is April 16 at Stars and Stripes Park, 3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive. Registration is $15-$35 and begins at 7 a.m. The Kiddie K begins at 8 a.m., and the 5K starts at 8:30 a.m.

“The name was coined off the painful statistic that every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted,” said Karla Docter, senior director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Response at YWCA-OKC. “We thought it would be a way to let other survivors know they are not alone and educate about services that can aid in the healing process for someone who has experienced sexual violence.”

The YWCA offers immediate crisis intervention. Docter said studies link the speed with sexual violence victims obtain prompt medical treatment and counseling to the speed of their recovery.

“They are more likely to feel respected, believed, understand that they are not to blame, not alone in the process, follow up with medical care and experience fewer PTSD symptoms,” Docter said. “The immediate response to victims of sexual assault should be sensitive and appropriately address their needs and concerns. With early intervention, victims are better equipped to decrease the symptoms of traumatic stress, improving their ability to cope and heal from the experience of this crime.”

Known dangers

Contrary to what is typically portrayed in popular culture, perpetrators are most often not creepy people lurking in bushes or dark alleys. Research shows that more than 80 percent of the time, the victim knows the perpetrator. It’s someone’s partner, coworker, neighbor or friend.

“The person who attacked me was a co-worker at my part-time job,” said Lisa, a sexual assault survivor who received services from YWCA. “I knew of him; I did not know him, meaning we did not speak or interact.”

Lisa, who preferred not to use her last name, said the possibility of sexual assault never really crossed her mind before she was attacked.

“My parents taught us to be aware of our surroundings, prepare for unexpected situations and keep alert, but this assault caught me off guard,” she said  “I froze. My feet were heavy like cement, but my mind was recording every living second. I was asking myself, ‘What in the world is going on?’”

When it was over, Lisa said she contacted the 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline. A police officer met her at the hospital.

“They explained the process and spent time with me and helped me regain myself,” she said. “Within a short time from the initial contact, I began meetings with a crisis counselor. These wonderful people also worked as a team with me throughout the legal process. For me, it was like having an extended family; they lifted my spirits, they listened to me, helped me understand the situation by looking at things differently.”

Recovering from a sexual assault takes time, Lisa said, and she understands it’s something she might never fully overcome.

“There is not a day that goes by I don’t think about the rape or pain of rape or the court hearings,” she said. “I worry about the safety of my daughters and granddaughters, my friends; I pray they never have to go through this.”

Studies show that in the United States, someone is killed in a car accident every 12 minutes, while someone is raped every two minutes. Lisa said she remembers feeling isolated, damaged and that somehow the attack was her fault.

“At first, I believed I was alone, the only one to hurt, the only one no one would believe,” she said. “Most of us go through PTSD, which isn’t cured by an arrest or conviction. I found my healing started when I joined a support group and learned about others who were raped.”

The bottom line, she said, is to start by calling YWCA and discussing your options, and then get medical care immediately.

“You may have hidden injuries, and you may need to take emergency contraception and antibiotics to prevent STDs,” Lisa said. “You only have a small time window to work all this out, so you need to call the hotline as soon as you can.”

For more information on YWCA services and the 2 Minute 5K race, visit ywcaokc.org. Reach the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline at 405-943-7273.

Print headline: Recovery race, YWCA Oklahoma City raises sexual assault awareness with its 5K race.

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