Author:Donna Vickroy

If the horror stories shared through the #MeToo movement, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, the Catholic church scandal and the Bill Cosby trial have you pondering the extent of sexual abuse and assault in this country, consider that what goes public could likely be the tip of the iceberg.

“The things we are hearing now in the news is the tip of what people’s true experiences have been like,” said Stacey Jones, licensed clinical professional counselor and director of counseling for the Crisis Center for South Suburbia (emergency hotline: 708-429-7233).

“We definitely see it, working with our clients here. When we start doing a history of their relationships, this current one, the one that brought them here, is just the latest in a series of traumatic experiences for them,” she said.

Domestic violence statistics are high — 1 in 3 women victimized and 1 in 4 men, according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Jones added, “I still feel as though it’s highly under-reported. And if something like domestic violence is under-reported, just think about sexual assault.”

But, Jones said, it is possible to heal from sexual abuse or assault, whether the incident is made public or not.

I recently sat down with Jones, who has worked with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse for six years. I asked her to shine a light on what constitutes abuse, why it happens and how a victim might be helped.

1. We know the definition of rape and molestation, but can common behaviors such as hugging and touching be considered a violation of personal space, too?

Jones: Any type of touch that you did not receive permission to grant, that was uninvited, is inappropriate, even something as simple as hugging or putting your hand on someone’s shoulder. The intent may be completely innocent but you don’t know the experience of the receiver, how she/he may feel about it.

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