Engaging New Voices
By Karyn Lathan

Every year we push to raise awareness about the totality of violence against women and yes, men too. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is one way we try to make this issue more visible. But do we really understand the enormity of it? According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 8 minutes a claim of child sexual abuse is substantiated; approximately 63,000 children a year are victims of sexual abuse. And that’s just one part of the problem.

Let’s talk about sex trafficking, where according to Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate human trafficking, one out of every six runaway kids are trafficked. And about 4.5 million people, mainly girls and women, are forced into and held in sexual slavery. These numbers are not even part of the child sexual assault numbers above.

Yes, sexual violence is very prevalent. But I wanted to take a moment to talk about not just being aware, but also being part of the solution.

Tempe Council member Lauren Kuby spearheaded the formation of the Tempe Family Justice Commission, where all forms of family violence are brought together. We have brought ASU police, Tempe police, Care7, and other community members together to provide guidance for the Council on the needs of the victims, first responders, and the community. I would like to take a moment to discuss just one of those agencies that deals with this daily in Tempe, Care7.

Care7 is an amazing resource that is not well known. Can you imagine being a traumatized victim and the first contact you have is with an advocate who asks about YOU and what you need? The Care7 Trauma team is dispatched when the police are dispatched, so they will meet you where the police meet you. Car crash or Sexual Assault, Care7 will respond and be there for the victim.

What about a sexual assault victim who doesn’t want to report what happened, but still needs help? They can call Care7 at 480-350-8004 or e-mail care7@tempe.gov.

If you aren’t a victim yourself, but want to help, what can you do? There are plenty of volunteer opportunities with Care7 and other places. You can start by making the decision to Step Up and Step In. If you see or hear something that makes you suspect someone is being victimized, take action by calling Care7. Someone’s life might depend on you stepping in.

Karyn Lathan, Chair of Tempe Family Justice Commission