6 3 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--- One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted before they turn age 18. Thursday, the city of Jacksonville began a campaign to combat those assaults by declaring April, 'Sexual Assault Awareness Month.'

Jacksonville Sheriff Office Lt. Lakesha Burton is a victim of sexual assault.

"I was victim when I was 13 and I know the after affects and what it takes to heal," Burton said.

The predator in Burton's case was arrested, but released. The incident inspired her to sail through the ranks at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

"I wanted to be that officer to respond and be compassionate and really help those victims both short-term and long term," Burton said.

She is speaking out for victims like Trisha Meili. She suffered brain damage after she was raped 25 years ago, during her evening run in New York City.

"I was beaten unconscious, bound, gagged, rape and left for dead," said Meili.

Meili says education and Sexual Assault Awareness Month will help victims. More than 700 survivors have reached out to the Jacksonville Women's Center for help.

Lt. Burton hopes victims learn from her past and her ability to rebound.

"[I hope victims learn ] to speak out anytime something like this happens," said Burton.

6 3 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/local/2014/04/03/sexual-assault-awareness-month/7269607/