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It's a difficult issue to talk about: sexual assault.
But one young lady is brave enough to share her story.
"I was staying with my mom, and she worked a lot, and she entrusted my step dad, which is my sister's biological father,” the victim says. “And I never had a problem with him until one day he did rape me."
The teenager didn't want to show her face, and we've changed her name to "Amber."
At the tender age of seven, Amber was raped.
Sadly, her sister fell victim to sexual assault too.
"We were in foster care, and she was getting sexually assaulted for like six months, and she never did tell me,” says Amber. “So, when she finally did told me that's when I ended up fighting for custody, and I got her. But she never did tell nobody."
Plus, when Amber told a relative she'd be sharing her story with NBC 6, she too opened up.
"Just this morning, I found out, telling one of my cousins that I was going to be interviewed, she confessed to me that she was sexually assaulted too,” says Amber. “And she never told nobody, and she's 21, getting ready to graduate."
Mayors and other dignitaries in northwest Louisiana signed proclamations to mark April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"We as a nation have got to do something nationally, state and locally to do everything we can to make people aware of how serious a problem this is and how many lives are affected by this,” says Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker. “And it's only going to get fixed if we all work together on this problem."
"I think what we've seen over the past is that this is an issue that maybe hasn't been swept under the rug, but it has been something that has been below the radar," says Col. Leland Bohannon with Barksdale Air Force Base.
Barksdale has a sexual assault unit on the base, and Col. Bohannon says both men and women play a part in stopping sexual assault cases.
"We find that more often than not, sexual assault is a result of men assaulting women,” says Col. Bohannon. “It's not always the case, but more often than not, it is. And so I think if men are taking a more leading step, to address how we behave, and how we look upon women, that could only be a good thing."
Angela Henderson, is a counselor with Project Celebration, a non-profit organization that helps sexual assault victims.
"It affects the entire community, and one thing that we do is educate the community at any cost, whether from children up to adults, because it’s no respecter of persons,” says Henderson. “It happens to all of us."
On average, the non-profit sees 217 victims every year. Every month, Henderson visits 25-30 victims in the E.R.
Amber says by sharing her story, she hopes to put a dent in those numbers.
If you know a victim of sexual assault, you can call the Project Celebration hotline for help: (318) 227-7900.
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