EDITORIAL: You are not alone

Domestic violence and sexual assault are taboo subjects, but ones that affect all corners of our community. A year-long investigation by the Central Michigan University chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, with support from Central Michigan Life, takes a deep dive into the prevalence of violence in Mid-Michigan, and the partners who are trying to end it. [Image asset by Shutterstock]

Sexual assault and domestic violence are both taboo subjects that, frankly, many of us do not want to believe are happening right under our noses. 

But we need to acknowledge them. These issues happen in Mount Pleasant, and they happen more often than you think. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, so let's talk about what these issues mean for our community. 

Magdalena Lopez is the sexual assault team coordinator for R.I.S.E. Advocacy, a nonprofit that supports survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in Isabella, Clare and Gratiot counties. She said the stereotype of these situations is that a man is always the perpetrator and a woman is the victim of their abuse. 

While this is statistically more likely, she said, it is important not to forget that anyone could be victimized by abuse.  

Sexual assault and domestic violence also happen to men, LGBTQ+ people, people of all races and people in positions of power, she said. Lopez said R.I.S.E. works with clients as young as 4 years old, and she has seen clients as old as 92.

“It does not matter,” she said. “However you identify, no one should be experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault.” 

Domestic violence can be especially complicated on an emotional level.  

“Once you’re in it, it can get real dangerous, real quick,” Lopez said. “Or it can be super subtle and you won’t see it for years, and then you realize what’s going, but now you’re years into this. It might be really difficult for that person to try to reel it back and get some of that control back."  

On average, it takes people between seven and 11 times of leaving and returning to an abusive relationship for them to finally escape their situation, Lopez said. 

Sexual assault can cause trauma that lasts a lifetime, and survivors may struggle to regain a sense of safety and control in their lives. 

If you feel like you are alone – like you have nowhere to go – there are people here in your community that can help. 

Central Michigan Life and the Society of Professional Journalists at Central Michigan University have spent the past year learning about the effects of sexual assault and domestic violence on our community, as well as the resources available for survivors. 

We hope that our reporting will show this community the truth of these issues and guide survivors towards help. Apart from the stories in this edition, you will be able to find our reporting on cm-life.com. You can also scan the QR code here to find a website created by our SPJ chapter, which contains all of our work. 

At 6 p.m. today, April 27, you can also find us in the Park Library's Opperman Auditorium for a presentation of this project. The event is free and open to the public.    

Remember, there is a reason you are a survivor, not just a victim. Everything that you have endured will always be a part of you, but that does not mean you cannot find a path to healing.  

There are healthy relationships out there. 

You can regain control of your life. 

You are not alone.