PENDLETON - JuliaAnn Cox won first place for the 11-12 grade division of the Domestic Violence Services-sponsored essay contest for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

She will receive $100 for her work. Aurora Torres, a 15-year-old sophomore at PHS, also will receive $100 for her first-place essay in the 9-10 grade division. Haley Jordan will receive $50 for her second-place essay in the 9-10 grade group.

Cox is a 17-year-old senior at Pendleton High School. Her essay follows:

Prevention of sexual violence is the most essential to finally putting an end to it.

The very first thing one must do when wishing to prevent and end sexual violence, is to educate themselves on the topic. It seems that very few people know what all is considered sexual violence, and fewer know what they can do to prevent it.

One would think that people, especially females, would be taught from a fairly young age what to do when being sexually assaulted and what they should do to prevent it from happening.

The very first thing that comes to mind for a person to do is to scream. Yell for help and try to get away; unfortunately, this may or may not help. As I said before, I believe a person's best bet is doing whatever they can to prevent a sexual assault from occurring. One way to do this is to go with friends when going out, and not just any friends. You need to go with friends that you trust and you know will not ditch you later in the night. It's one thing to go to a party with a bunch of friends, but if you don't stay with those friends throughout the night, it is the same as if you had gone alone.

Another way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of sexual violence is to be careful about your drinks. Date rape drugs are a very popular way for males to lure women into sleeping with them. Because of this, you should never leave your drink unattended, or accept drinks from others. It would be quite easy for someone to slip a pill into a drink without your knowledge so it is important to watch your drinks when you have them.

Finally, and what I think may be one of the more important ways to end sexual violence, is to not only take precautions for yourself, but also for your friends. Not everybody takes the threat of sexual violence seriously, and it is a shame. Helping to make sure your friends do not become victims of sexual assault may not be easy, but it is a good thing to do. I would much rather do what I can to help protect my friends, than to know they were assaulted and there was something I could have done to prevent it and didn't.

And once again, the key to ending sexual violence is preventing it. The key to preventing sexual violence, is to be knowledgeable about it. One can not do something, if they don't know what it is that they need to do. Educate yourself about sexual violence, and you will be more able to prevent it from happening to you or someone you care about. To educate yourself further, visit your local Sexual Assault Prevention Center or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800- 656-HOPE 4673.

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