COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The CDC has declared sexual violence a public health issue due to statistics like the following: 54% of mass shootings are results of sexual or domestic abuse related to the shooter. This national issue goes beyond victims and their families.

Globally, the COVID 19 pandemic created a dramatic spike in sexual assault and domestic violence cases around the world. The public health issue is preventable through understanding and addressing risk and protective factors.

The CDC uses the following acronym S.T.O.P. in order to stop sexual violence.

80% of sexual assault and rapes are done by someone the victim knows.

Victim Advocate Coordinator at the Center at 909, Abby Moorman says, “Sexual assault is never a crime of sexual passion; it is a crime of violence and control. So, when that happens so many of your choices and your rights are stripped away from you.”

The Center at 909, in Columbus, Ga. is a state-certified center that offers help to anyone under the sexual violence and domestic abuse umbrella. Their relationship with local law enforcement and hospitals allows victims to come straight to the center for personal sexual assault kits to take place in a safe and peaceful environment. The focus is to give power back to survivors.

Moorman says so much power is taken away from victims when assaulted. She says, “Our goal is to restore some of that power back and say you do have choices; you can come here, or you can go there. You can have the right to choose throughout the process, at any point in time you can choose I want to do this part and I don’t want to do this part.”

Majority of cases there is not physical force or evidence, most of the time it is emotional control, manipulation, or psychological harm.

Moorman says there needs to be a shift in our society, to see change, the best way to do that is, “We can literally just believe people. That’s the most empowering thing you can do for someone that’s the first thing that will make them think I don’t have to live with this, I don’t have to stay in this.”

More than 2 out of every 3 sexual violence cases go unreported. The statistics in this story are based only on reported cases.

The Center at 909 has a 24-hour hotline available at 706-571-6010.