The ages of sexual assault victims in New Mexico range from as young as 6 weeks to 90 years old, according to data compiled by the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, and one in four women in the state will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
In an effort to address the harrowing statistics, the UNM Women’s Resource Center will host an event today to discuss services available for victims and survivors.
“The best way to help somebody is to believe them, straight up. Don’t ask them any qualifying questions. Just allow them control over their own bodies,” said Summer Little, the WRC interim director. “A lot of people don’t report to anybody because they don’t feel anybody will believe them.”
Today’s event begins at 11 a.m. in SUB Ballroom C. More than 20 campus groups helped organize the event, including the LGBTQ Resource Center, El Centro de la Raza and the Student Health and Counseling Center.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King will speak at 12:15 p.m. about state sex trafficking.
More than 100,000 minors are in the commercial sex-trade in the United States, according to the Polaris Project, a leading organization against human trafficking.
Eighty percent of human trafficking victims are women, King said. In 2008, the Attorney General’s office, spearheaded by King, passed a law that made human trafficking a felony crime. So far, New Mexico has prosecuted two cases, Assistant Attorney General Maria Sanchez-Gagne said. She said it’s too early to tell if the law has reduced state human trafficking.
The forum will provide resources for sexual assault victims and divert the dialogue away from re-victimization, Little said. Sexual assault victims are often accused of lying about instances of abuse, or told the abuse was their fault, which adds to the trauma.
“If you put yourself out there and people start analyzing, ‘You put this on or you went to this place,’ it’s revictimizing,” Little said. “We all need to speak up against perpetuating myths of sexual assault.”
Little said the forum looks to form allies with men.
“This is a men’s issue,” she said. “They need to intervene when they see something wrong. Every man is not going to sexually assault someone, but every man will meet a sexual assault survivor in their lifetime.”