The Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP) has produced a statewide documentary with 12 sexual violence survivors and counselors to raise awareness of the impact of sexual assault on local communities and the resources available to help survivors. New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services is among the organizations featured in the documentary, which is airing this week on KET.
The hour-long documentary Believe Me – Help and Hope for Sexual Assault Survivors shares “powerful stories from Kentucky survivors to offer hope to those with similar experiences,” according to a release.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than half of women and nearly 1 in 3 men in the United States have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetime. In Kentucky, more than 39% of women and 18% of men have experienced contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
According to data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, almost half of those raped in Kentucky had their first victimization when they were under the age of 18. Additionally, 82% of first victimizations in the state happened before the age of 25.
“Sexual violence is not just a local issue. It affects every community in Kentucky, and often by people the survivor knows, as statistics show that 88% of contact sexual violence is perpetrated by an intimate partner, family member or acquaintance,” said Missie Quillen, KASAP Executive Director. “With this documentary, we hope to reach all survivors of sexual violence in our state, so they know they are not alone and that there are resources available to help them.”
KASAP is a coalition of 13 sexual assault programs and crisis centers that serve every county in the Commonwealth. KASAP’s local programs are not limited to survivors of rape but also serve survivors of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual violence.
New Beginnings is part of this coalition and serves Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union, and Webster counties.
“We are proud to be part of this coalition and to participate in the work KASAP is doing to make a difference in our state, including with this documentary,” said Karla Ward, New Beginnings Executive Director. “Our work is making a difference in the local communities we serve and for the survivors who are healing. No matter when someone’s sexual assault experience occurred, whether recently or decades ago, we are here to listen and help.”
Jennifer Francis-Gehring, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with New Beginnings, was part of the documentary and said the sexual assault numbers in local communities are staggering.
“I know the numbers are far higher than what the national average says – 2 out of every 10 people have experienced sexual assault. When we look at things like coercion…when we look at things like manipulation, that number’s much higher,” Francis-Gehring said. “I think part of us, we just don’t want to see things because if we see things, we have to go, ‘oh wow…that doesn’t happen.’ And not only does it happen, but if it happens to you, that could happen to me.”
The Believe Me documentary first aired Tuesday night on KET. It will air again today (April 26) at 12:30 p.m. CDT and April 30 at 1 p.m.