REDDING, Calif. – April is the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Stephen Campbell, the Interim Executive Director of One Safe Place in Redding, explains why it’s such a common problem in Shasta County
“In Shasta County, we have some of the highest ACEs scores in any of the counties in California,” said Campbell. “The other thing that's kind of unique about where we are as well is because we're here in Northern California and right on the I-5 corridor. There's just a significant amount of human trafficking that happens through our area as well.”
From July 2018 to June 2019, One Safe Place served more than 1800 domestic violence clients, 186 sexual assault clients, saw 685 crisis hotlines and had more than 7000 visits for service.
In 2020, One Safe Place said because of the pandemic it saw an increase in its crisis hotline calls but a decrease of in-person services.
Campbell said there are signs identify if someone is a victim of sexual assault or abuse. The biggest sign is a change in behavior, such as when a person begins to withdraw or starts to act out.
Jessie Ballard is the program director at Shasta College’s Shasta Campus Advocacy, Resources, and Education for Safety or CARES program. She works with students who’ve experienced sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence.
“Prior to COVID-19, we would see students coming in,” said Ballard. “A lot of times there were a lot of stalking cases that we would see our students coming in for.”
Both Ballard and Campbell agree the best way to help victims of sexual assault is to listen to them and believe in them.
“The biggest thing we can do is listen and believe and have non-judgment in our hearts to show survivors that we are there to support them,” said Ballard.
“It's so critical that if somebody comes to you and tells you that they've been assaulted that you believe them,” said Campbell.
Shasta College also has a One Safe Place advocate that is on campus and works with students.