April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Lake Regional is joining forces with other lake area organizations to bring attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and can affect every person in the community.
Lake Regional helped establish the Lake Area Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), which includes local law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices in the tri-county area, as well as the survivor service providers Kids’ Harbor and Citizens Against Domestic Violence (CADV). The SART team supports survivors of sexual assault by providing best practices in medical interventions, investigative tools, prosecutorial strategies and advocacy support, all with the goal of holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
“We must work together to educate our community about sexual violence prevention, supporting victims, and speaking out against harmful attitudes and actions,” said Crystal Lloyd, R.N., director of the Lake Regional Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team. “Prevention is possible when everyone gets involved. The first step is increasing education, awareness and community involvement. It’s time for all of us to take action.”
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact that occurs without explicit consent, and it can happen to anyone. According to Citizens Against Domestic Violence, Inc., an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Two out of every three assaults will go unreported to the police.
“Anytime you are concerned for someone’s immediate safety, don’t hesitate to call 911,” Lloyd said. “Sexual assault and abuse is more prevalent in our community than people think. From January 2018 through February 2021, the Lake Area SART team aided in 2,085 cases needing forensic assessment. If you suspect or know someone has experienced sexual assault or any form of abuse, you should encourage them to seek support from one of our community resources.”
Lake Regional Hospital has a room specifically equipped to treat victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. The room is fully stocked with pharmaceuticals and lab supplies, as well as new clothing, a private shower and toiletries for use by survivors following an exam. These services are available 24/7.
CADV is a non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention, shelter, advocacy and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence. To learn more, visit cadv-voc.org, or call 888.809.7233 for their 24-hour emergency hotline. Kids’ Harbor is a child advocacy center serving the Lake of the Ozarks area in Central Missouri, Fort Leonard Wood and surrounding areas. To learn more, visit kidsharbormo.org.
Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to residents and visitors throughout the mid-Missouri region. To learn more, visit lakeregional.com.