Alabama – On social media, a trend is grabbing the attention of many across the country. The trend, to carry out sexual assault against women on April 24th. As upsetting as the trend is, thousands have come out and said they are here to protect any and all women.
Since its circulation, the full original post can no longer be found on the social media platform, TikTok. Only a portion can be found, where other users have inserted themselves denouncing the disturbing trend.
Kayleigh, a two-time rape survivor, an ally to anyone who has suffered from sexual assault, said the trend that was thought to be just, ‘internet trolls,’ has already affected her. “I have a friend whose daughter was just a victim of rape and their reasoning was it’s not April 24th and we’ve already started,” Kayleigh told News 19.
Kayleigh is using her voice to keep anyone safe not just on that day, but always. She says she’ll be on the platform, live all day to keep women entertained, “I’ll be singing to Disney songs, making jokes, creating a positive environment while these girls stay home, if they choose to.”
Local law enforcement has already put this serious threat on their radar, Brent Patterson with the Madison County Sheriff’s said when something like this comes to their attention, they act quickly.
“Do we put something like this on the back burners, no. It’s something that we take seriously, it’s something that we will always look in to and that’s why we’re here today,” Patterson also added that names are quickly run through the database.
Just because it was a small group of men, those six men grabbed the attention of not only the country but internationally. Adde Waggoner, a Sexual Assault Prevention Educator at the Crisis Services of North Alabama says this is a culture that needs to be stopped.
“We need to look at these low recognition continuum that allows for joking,” Waggoner adds this makes people think it’s ok to carry out certain actions.
While many have come to the defense, Waggoner says this trend is a double-edged sword. “One, it’s discouraging to hear this kind of talk on social media, especially when so many younger folks who can hear these messages and think it’s ok, but it’s also encouraging because we have so many people that are actively trying to change the culture and to let people know that assault is not alright.”
According to Rainn.org one out of every six women in the United States is a victim of attempted or completed sexual assault. Every year, 433,648 (age 12 and older) are victims and an assault occurs every 73 seconds in the U.S.
So before you finish brushing your teeth, ordering your coffee at the café, or grabbing your food at the drive-thru, someone has become a victim of sexual assault.
Waggoner said Crisis Services of North Alabama have free forensic kits available to anyone who may need them, “It’s completely anonymous and we keep it indefinitely until they are comfortable to reach out to law enforcement,” she said the kit is good for up to two days after the assault.
For more information on resources through the crisis center, click here, “We need to make sure that we provide people with all the resources and that we believe survivors and make sure they know none of this is their fault,” Waggoner said.
Safety and vigilance are key. Being aware of your surroundings and trusting your gut is very important. Both Patterson and Waggoner agree going to local law enforcement is pivotal in cases like this.
Patterson knows that officers can’t be with you physically 24 hours a day, but he said they are always there just like the other surrounding agencies. “This is the world we live in and you’ve got to know your surroundings every day, go with your instincts, if you feel like you’re a victim or being followed, you’re being stalked, victim services we’re there, we’re going to be there.”
The Madison County Sheriff’s has a 24-hour non-emergency hotline that you can call at 256-722-7181.
Patterson said, “If you see something, say something.”
It’s important to remember that supports and survivors won’t back down and Kayleigh says, “We have become so much more aware, there are plenty of people that know what’s going on, and it will not pass. It’s deeply personal, to turn a day, especially where we’re supposed to be supported and we’re supposed to support each other, to try to take that away, and do the exact opposite, you will always be overshadowed by love.”