LIMA — African American girls are 60 percent most likely to be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday and one in three women are sexually assaulted as well as one in six boys, Dr. Tyfanni Monford Dent told a group of people who attended a sexual assault awareness event in Lima Saturday.
Monford Dent, a Lima native currently living in Cleveland as a physiologist, brought awareness Saturday to the topic of sexual assault in the African American community.
An event titled “Empower Your Voice” was held at the Bradfield Community Center and was attended by 50 people.
A panel of six people included Kesha Drake, Bradfield Community Center, Leandra Johnson, Fresh N Faded, Olivia Montgomery, Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Ann Miles, community advocate and moderator, Pastor Mary Petaway, God’s Place Ministries St. Ritas and Pilate Bradley, Honda Motor Co.
Monford Dent said the purpose of the event was to encourage the community to support survivors of sexual violence and encourage those who are victims to report abuse.
“Sexual violence is not unique to the black community. There is research that states 1 in 16 victims disclose sexual violence because there is a barrier in the community. A person is most likely to be sexually assaulted by someone who looks like you,” Monford Dent said. In indigenous communities, African American women and children are more likely to be sexually assaulted by Caucasian men, she added.
The panel discussed the importance of creating a safe place where victims can report abuse, educate young boys on what healthy relationships look like and have good male role models to look up to.
“It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to protect children,” Bradley said.
Mondord Dent said a lot of times sexual abuse is not a topic often talked about and affects the victim’s emotional and social well being.
“It is time for us to say we are going to talk about this and if we can’t prevent it how do we intervene to make sure the after effects that can happen … are minimized,” Monford Dent said.
Carla Thompson, Crime Victim Services crime prevention educator, said the annual event is the third forum held in Lima.
“We find in the black community sexual assault and violence is under reported,” Thompson said. Crime Victim Services has a grant through Ohio Department of Health to raise awareness and work on prevention of sexual assault in African American communities.
“Since we have a large population of African Americans in Lima we chose to focus the grant on that population,” Thompson said. She said she wants victims to know Crime Victim Services is there for them and can assist them.
To report abuse contact Crime Victim Services at 419-222-8666 or Ohio Sexual Violence Help Line, a 24/7 confidential help line at 844- 644-6435.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.