April is sexual assault awareness month, and an Albuquerque rally hosted by the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico aims to address the issue.
The Rape Crisis Center is active across central New Mexico, including the Estancia Valley and East Mountains, with programs aimed primarily at students, which have been presented at high schools around the area.
According to Bianca Villani, community education and outreach program director, one in four women and one in 20 men in New Mexico will experience “attempted or completed sexual assault,” Villani said. Those data include childhood sexual abuse as well as rape. The rally will increase awareness “that people are directly or indirectly part of this on an almost daily basis, and people are dealing with trauma and pain,” Villani said, adding that the event seeks to promote healing. “Survivors don’t always find justice,” she explained. “Healing is such an important component of finding a peaceful life, or just moving on with your life in some ways.”
Natalie Clifford presents material to students, most recently at East Mountain High School. “We know statistics-wise that one out of every three people experience something called teen dating violence,” Clifford said. “The students seem to develop a larger awareness of the fact that abuse in relationships is not always physical,” she said, adding that the Crisis Center teaches students red flags in relationships, such as being very possessive, isolating somebody from friends and family, or intrusive behavior on social media or policing a cell phone of a girlfriend or boyfriend.
Clifford said she is cautious in approaching students, because some may be triggered by the material, may be experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse, and could feel singled out.
A hotline is available in English and Spanish 24 hours a day, and free counseling is also available to survivors.
According to data provided by the Center, in New Mexico in 2015, 74 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement were by a known person; 30 percent of those were by a family member.
In 2015, 46 percent of rape victims were adults, 26 percent were adolescents and 27 percent were children.
Visit rapecrisiscnm.org to learn more. The hotline number is 505-266-7711.
The rally will be held at Albuquerque Civic Plaza on April 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. and will feature speakers and informational booths.