April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and the spread of COVID-19 is elevating risk for sexual assault victims, according to the World Health Organization.
In a March 26 document, WHO stated that physical and/or sexual violence against women tends to increase during emergencies, including pandemics. Because intimate partner violence is one of the most prevalent forms of violence, the stay at home order from the governor poses additional threats to women across the state and in the Capital area.
“The impact of sexual assault can have lifetime effects for survivors and their families,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
The health impacts of violence on women and their children are significant and can result in injuries and serious physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems, including sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unplanned pregnancies, WHO stated.
To help survivors of sexual assault, Gov. Whitmer has deemed Michigan’s Sexual Assault Hotline an essential service.
“Providing support for Michigan’s survivors of sexual assault is an essential service that remains in place during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said. “It’s important to make sure that survivors are aware of these resources – in April and throughout the year.”
Survivors of sexual assault, their families and friends can call or text the hotline at 855-VOICES4 or 866-238-1454, respectively, to receive 24/7, free and confidential support.
Resources include guidance pertaining to adults, children, domestic violence, the disabled community, workplace and more.
“As we learn more about COVID-19, we are also learning about the ways it impacts our work to support survivors and create safer communities. We will continue to share information and tools to support the critical role of our partners and online community,” NSVRC’s website stated.
“In April we recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the need for continued education to better serve survivors and hold their offenders accountable. It is a month dedicated to standing with survivors of sexual assault – honoring and amplifying their voices while providing education on the dynamics and realities of this crime,” Nessel said.