Rape victims share stories to raise awareness

Sexual Assault Awareness Month sheds light on most under-reported crime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The horror of rape is being played out in Jacksonville.

Police say a 13-year-old girl was gang raped on the Southside last week, and investigators have arrested five people, including three juveniles, in the rape.

And Bell Carol, who is homeless, described last week how she was attacked and assaulted by a man who originally offered to help her. She says it's important for her to speak out.

"You know, I don't have nothing out here. I have nothing. I lost everything," Carol said.

But she said she still has her dignity.

"Yes, and I am alive. And I am going to make something positive out of this," Carol said.

On Thursday, more victims of rape like Carol spoke out. Alisha Lockley said she was 7 when she was assaulted by a family member. She shared her story at a kick-off for at City Hall for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Lockley then read a poem -- "Fairy Tale" -- which she wrote to help her cope with what happened.

Read the poem 'Fairy Tale| Watch Lockley read her poem

"But one day, her eyes were opened and she began falling," Lockley said in reading her poem. "At 7, her mixture of blissful ignorance and innocence is snuffed out against a mattress, and she is told, 'Shhhh, don't you dare tell anyone.'"

Statistics show one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and there's a sexual assault every 42 minutes. It's the most under-reported crime.

"A lot of people are afraid to say that something happened to them, because for some reason it makes them feel weaker," Lockley said. "But because of the fact you speak out, it makes you stronger. There is a scripture we constantly say at church that you are overcome by your testimony. The more you show and share with people, the stronger you become."

Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and State Attorney Angela Corey were also at the event. Corey said she is aware of the recent attacks and aware of the problem.

"Oh, it's absolutely a concern for us," she said. "The fact that there are so many young children being sexually abused is the biggest concern. Because this is a crime short of murder, this is the most serious crime we deal with. This is an impact on children, as you saw from our survivor. It will scar her forever. She is the lucky one. She will manage to contain it. She is going to use it to help other people. We have a lot of people who never recover from this, Jim. They are ruined for life."

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