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Several events planned during Sexual Assault Month

Forty-five sexual assault cases were reported in Lafayette County in 2017 to local law enforcement.

Assuming that only 20 to 30 percent of rape cases are reported, there’s the potential that there could have been up to 200 actual cases of sexual assault committed last year in Lafayette County, according to Libby Lytle, advocate for Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi.

On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen read and adopted a resolution proclaiming April as Sexual Awareness Month, recognizing the efforts of Family Crisis Services that will be participating in several events over the coming weeks to bring awareness and help lower the number of sexual assaults in Oxford, Lafayette County and on the University of Mississippi campus.

This year’s theme is “Embrace Your Voice.”

“It builds the idea that we are stronger together and that new partners and community members are needed to expand sexual assault prevention efforts,” Lytle said. “We can all help the next generation foster attitudes that promote healthy relationships, equality and respect.”

According to national statistics, 1 in 5 women and have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. One in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 16 and one in 33 men are sexually assaulted. Only 20 percent of female college students and 32 percent of female non-collage students report sexual assaults to law enforcement.

“We all have a role to play in preventing sexual violence in our community,” Lytle said. “Our actions, big and small, have a ripple effect on those we teach, guide and influence. From modeling healthy behavior to addressing inappropriate conduct, everyone can make a difference.”

On Tuesday, Family Crisis Services had a table with resources set up on the Lafayette County Courthouse lawn, along with T-shirts on display that are made by sexual assault survivors.

On Saturday, the table will be on display from 9 p.m. to midnight in front of Visit Oxford.

On April 18, Family Crises Services will be on hand to participate in the Ole Miss Rebels Against Sexual Assault’s Take Back the Night event at 5:30 p.m. where there will be a march and candlelight vigil.

Signs have been placed around town that say, “Your Voice has Power,” and magnetic ribbons have been placed on law enforcement vehicles that say, “End Child Abuse and Sexual Violence.”

A sexual assault forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. on April 23 at the Oxford Police Department training building.

“It will be an opportunity for all those interested in preventing sexual assault to come together to hear what we can do together as a community,” Lytle said. “It will be an opportunity to discuss how to help survivors and what resources are available.”