ROCKVILLE, Md. - A sexual assault survivor was among the many speakers at the Universities at Shady Grove on Tuesday night in honor of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Jade Cline-Stokes, spoke about the sexual abuse she endured as a child from her own father.
"Sadly, sometimes the word no isn’t what people hear, I was sexually assaulted with my mother and two of my little brothers in the next room," she said. "Still to this last day I can hear his last words echo in my mind 'And you better not tell anyone that I raped you.'"
The event, hosted by Montgomery County's multidisciplinary Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) was an opportunity for the community to learn about the many services the county provides to victims of sexual assault and their families.
They are co-located, which means a victim can meet with a wide range of agencies from police, to the health and human services division, all at once.
"We lessen our re-victimization of our victim by having them not have to retell their story so many times," says Lieutenant Jordan Satinsky, with the Montgomery County Police Department and Special Victims Investigations Division.
Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger announced that in 2017 alone, his officers had 1,500 sexual assault-related investigations.
The numbers include 239 sexual assault cases, 627 child sex abuse cases, and 272 child exploitation cases.
"Here’s what those numbers don’t represent, it represents the hundreds and hundreds of cases in this county that were never reported," he said. "We recognize that there is still a great deal of work to do and that’s why nights like tonight are so important."
Cline-Stokes talked about her path with yoga to get through her traumatic childhood and get the courage to seek help.
She encourages everyone else to not wait to do so.
"Do not ever let anyone ever silence you and do not let yourself silence yourself."
For more information on how you or a loved one can seek services, visit the county's website.