LAWTON, Ok (RNN Texoma) -After being kidnapped and sexually assaulted at the age of 17, International speaker and survivor Angela Rose spoke to a group at the Comanche County Health Department about shattering the silence of sexual violence and how trauma can lead to mental health and substance abuse issues.
Rose said becoming a victim of sexual assault inspired her to be a voice to others. She founded PAVE which stands for Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment.She now travels the country educating law enforcement , first responders, and counselors on how to deal with someone who has been sexually assaulted.
It's been nearly two decades since Angela Rose became a victim of sexual assault.
"When I was 17 years old I was kidnapped from a shopping mall parking lot and that changed the trajectory of my life," said Rose.
On the same day she was assaulted in Illinois, she filed a police report, but officers thought she was lying.
"He accused me of lying and it was so re-traumatizing to go through something so scary and then not be believed," said Rose.
She turned that pain into passion and founded the PAVE organization in 2001.PAVE stands for Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment Through her journey she is educating others.
"Always start by believing that survivor be careful not to use victim blaming language because far to often a lot of well meaning loved ones sometimes uses language that blames the survivor and it makes it feel like its our fault and so there is no shame in being a survivor and its not their fault," said Rose.
Falling victim of sexual violence can also affect a survivors neurobiology causing them to forgot specific things that happened to them or lead to drug addictions and suicidal thoughts.
"A lot of times don't understand that when a survivors goes through a dramatic experience often times they think its either flight or fight, but often times they just freeze because of these stress hormones in a survivors brain," said Rose.
Rose said everybody knows someone in their life that was impacted by sexual violence and in today's society it happens too often.
"We are seeing a lot of new Hash Tag Me Too movements really talking about how important its to have safe schools and safe work places and so we do a lot of training for students and also how to know how to support fellow friends and peers," said Rose.
While it can be very difficult to talk about, she hopes to encourage others to speak out or seek help.
"Through art or poetry just find someway to get it out because when you keep it inside it festers and it can create a lot of long term emotional aftermaths that we are trying to mitigate," said Rose.
Rose said 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted or harassed before they turn 18.
For more information on PAVE organization visit their website.