Raising awareness for sexual assault survivors

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 10:43 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 9:56 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Locals from southern Arizona gathered to fight against sexual violence for the 44th “Take Back the Night” in Tucson.

“We see you, we hear you, we believe you ‚and we care about you.”

This is the main message organizers want victims to know. They said plenty of resources are available to help survivors of sexual violence in southern Arizona.

Carrie Eutizi was one of the many survivors to talk about her experience with sexual assault.

″I believed that I should have done everything differently,” Eutizi said. “I gaslit myself into thinking my feelings were invalid.”

According to the Take Back the Night Foundation, one in three women worldwide experiences some type of sexual violence, either from a stranger or partner.

This is one of the many reasons Eutizi wanted to share her story.

“It turns out none of it was my fault,” Eutizi said. “It was not an easy time for me. No means no, he should have listened.”

The foundation reports about one in six men experiences sexual violence. Tim Lennon is one of those survivors.

“I’m a survivor of child sex abuse,” Lennon shared. “I was raped and sexually abused for months by my parish priest.”

Lennon said it took him almost 50 years to share what happened to him. He said some survivors couldn’t help but wait years to come forward.

“Due to the culture of shame and blame, many victims never come forward,” Lennon said. “30% to 70% of victims of sexual abuse never come forward. "

Jesus Camacho with Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, or SACASA, says this is just one of many resources available for victims. They have help for survivors who speak English or Spanish.

Camacho said it’s important to listen and understand.

“Hear people out, believe people when they tell you they have been through something or something has happened to them,” Camacho said. “Let them know there is help.”

The City of Tucson Mayor, Regina Romero, declared April 25th, 2023 as “Take Back the Night Day” in Tucson. This event started in Tucson in 1979.

″It’s important that we take back the night that we own our spaces as survivors or relatives of survivors,” Romero said.

Ari Montes with Take Back the Night Tuscon said if you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, it’s best to listen and let them decide what to do next.

“It is not up to anyone but the survivor to determine what steps they want to take, if any,” Montes said. “Also, as an advocate, you have resources available in the community.”

April 26th is recognized worldwide as “Denim Day.” This day is recognized on every last Wednesday of the month. The goal of “Denim Day” is to give people a chance to wear denim that displays messages and stories to show support for victims of sexual assault.

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