ENC woman speaks out follow sexual assault encounter

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The month of April is National Sexual Assault Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

According to statistics, 133,294 people were sexually assaulted in 2022.

Now one county in the East is taking action by raising awareness and reminding people of the services offered through one county program.

Greenville’s Patrice Wallace knows the issue first-hand. “I was at Walmart on Wednesday, just shopping as usual in the aisle, and all of a sudden, I looked up and there was a guy in my face, and he walked by and he grabbed my butt,” said Wallace.

Wallace says it was a nightmare that she never expected. “It was early in the morning, so I thought I was going, and no one was going to be there. Very unexpected and a lot of fear and disbelief. When he did touch me and grab me, it was kind of like… what just happened? A lot of fear. Honestly, it was very unexpected. He’s walking really fast towards me so then I run. I run and I find two employees in the store.”

Following the frightening encounter, Wallace says a police report with Greenville Police was filed.

According to GPD, an investigation into the alleged assault is underway.

According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault in North Carolina.

With April being Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Carteret County is doing its part to spread the word.

Vicki Wank, Carteret County Rape Crisis Program Director says, “We provide victim advocacy for anyone who is a victim of sexual assault past or present. We do education and presentations to the community to raise awareness about our program and ways to prevent sexual assault and help support survivors. We go to the hospital with survivors when needed, we help them through the court process.”

It’s such services that Wallace says are vital to recovery. Wallace told WITN, “Trauma, things that happen… if we don’t deal with them, it becomes a bigger problem so I would definitely encourage someone to seek out counseling and programs just to take care of the issue.”

For any survivors of sexual assault, there are also virtual resources like the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as well as the National Sexual Assault Hotline that provides 24/7 confidential support.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline number is 1-800-656-4673.

For more information on the Carteret County Rape Crisis Program, you can visit their website.