SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – April is sexual assault awareness month and Shreveport locals are raising awareness about sexual assault and mental health consequences.

Advocacy organizations, like Project Celebration, provide education and advocate for prevention, they also deal with the mental toll that sexual assault can cause.

Local co-pastor of Demonstration Church and counselor Dr. Aviva Williamson is working to change the narrative, stressing the importance of mental health.

“A lot of time we don’t always talk about the importance of taking care of your mind, taking care of your mental stability, and all of that,” Dr. Williamson said.

Williamson’s SOAR, is hosting an empowerment brunch on Saturday, April 30 designed to further the conversation about mental health.

While women are 4 times more likely than others to be victims of sexual assault; it is not exclusively a women’s issue. Denita Washington, Project Celebration’s Sexual Assault Education coordinator says this issue affects people across a spectrum of socio-economic, race, and gender identities.

“It doesn’t matter where you live. It reaches high, it reaches low. It affects everyone,” Washington said. “We’re all victims of it when you think about it. Because if you’re not a primary victim you’re a secondary victim from seeing it or knowing someone.”

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Williamson says mental health is not something you should deal with on your own.

“Therapy is a blessing. Like, get some help, talk to somebody. Do not, like, keep those feelings all bottled up inside because that can actually cause more damage than good.”

During SOAR’s empowerment brunch there will be licensed counselors and therapists present for attendees to connect with.

Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area