Local organization helps sexual violence victims; talk about recent assault allegations in Hollywood and media

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Dozens of high-profile celebrities, lawmakers, and members of the media have been accused of either sexual harassment or sexual assault in the past couple of weeks, including Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Senator Al Franken, Charlie Rose and much more.

“It would appear that this stone will roll a little longer,” said Amidie Shaw, Director of Volunteer Program & community engagement for Hearts of Hope.

It’s a non-profit agency that responds daily to those affected by the trauma of sexual violence in the Hub City, by providing education, advocacy and empowerment services and programs.

“We are maybe not as shocked as people are because we hear it day in and day out,” said Shaw.

She says in an average year, more than 500 children come into the agency with sexual abuse claims, that’s in addition to close to 200 adults.

“We need to get to a place where this behavior is not tolerated, it’s not hidden, it is out there, it’s unacceptable, and the people that do it are reprimanded or punished for it,” she believes.

Sexual assault and abuse remain one of the most under-reported crimes.

The center says that 1 in 5 women, as well as 1 in 7 men, will be the victim of sexual violence.

“We’re talking about those inappropriate touches, those things that are uninvited and unwelcome and really just that, stepping over of boundaries,” said Kimberly Young, Executive Director of Hearts of Hope.

Although the organization says that they haven’t necessarily seen a huge spike in sexual abuse victims come to their facility recently, Young believes that with all the new allegations coming to light recently in the media and in Hollywood, it could continue.

“The less stigma there is for me to say, I was sexually assaulted I was sexually violated, then you are going to have more people who feel more empowered and that I’m not alone, or there”s not something wrong with me, or I didn’t do anything to make this happen to me. So I think you will see more people talk about it,” said Young.

Hearts of Hope’s services are available to the Acadiana area of Louisiana: Lafayette, Acadia, Vermilion, Iberia, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Landry & Evangeline parishes.

If you would like to know more about Hearts of Hope and the services they provide, visit their website, or if you need immediate help, you can call their 24/7 Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 337.233.RAPE (7273)

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