Presidential debate shining light on sexual assault problem

WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – The numbers on sexual assault in America are alarming. One in four women are sexual assaulted in their lifetime.

And, with the issue having made its way to the presidential election, sexual assault victims are being affected.

Many victims are finding that it’s hard to escape the topic of sexual assault these days, it’s causing some to speak up about their story and the lasting affects sexual assault can have.  Normally, KSN would not disclose the identity of a sexual assault survivor, but this victim wanted her face to be shown and name revealed.

“We can’t turn to a station without it being on the bottom, or coming up on the news. It’s a huge trigger for people that have to control what they consume,” explained survivor, Shareen Mansfield.

Mansfield says she has a trigger every time she tunes into the news.

“I don’t want to go back to that place. I don’t want to visit that place,” said Mansfield.

But, watching the news coverage takes her back to that very dark time. Mansfield kept her traumatic experience from everyone for more than a decade. With sexual assault abuse being talked about on the national level more than ever, she says now is the time to speak out.

“Survivors are all scared right now, anyone that has been assaulted is scared because they don’t feel comfortable with either candidate,” Mansfield stated.

Which is why Mansfield decided to start her own website, Open Thought Vortex, a platform where survivors can open up, write and talk about their life-altering experiences.

“It’s important that they be heard and counted and considered,” she said.

Mansfield says with each day, there are more people joining the movement and sharing their story.

Kathy Williams with the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, says this national discussion could actually be positive thing it’s bringing light to an issue that has been plaguing this nation for far too long.

“When stories come up in the media, it’s a good thing in terms of this is an issue we all need to be talking about, and we need to be talking about every day,” explained Kathy Williams, Executive Director of WASAC.

It’s that conversation, Mansfield says, that needs to be the beginning of change for such a tragic and important issue.

“Both sides need to know that rape, sexual harassment taking you know, anyone from a pedophile to a rapist it’s a problem, we need to fix it.”

This issue doesn’t just affect women. In fact, almost 3 million men in the United States have been victims of sexual assault or rape.