April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout my career and personal life, I have seen numerous women and men who have survived a sexual assault or years of sexual abuse. Bringing awareness to this issue is very important to me. I have found that there are so many misconceptions and fears concerning sexual assault that people avoid talking about it. As such, it becomes something that feels like it “should” be hidden. So people don’t report an assault or don’t tell friends or family, and struggle alone to work through the trauma or deny it happened altogether.
We also live in a world that tends to blame the victim. “She was drunk.” “She was wearing really tight clothes.” “He should have known better than to walk in that part of town.” In fact, a teenage girl in Italy in 1998 was raped by her driving instructor, who was initially convicted. However, the case was overturned because the court said the girl wore tight jeans and must have had to help take them off because they were so tight. Therefore, she consented to sex. (Side Note: Every year on April 24, you can wear jeans to raise awareness.) No one EVER deserves to be sexually assaulted. I think that these statements, and the many other varieties of them, are ways for other people to deal with their own fears. If I can find what that person “did wrong,” then I can avoid it happening to me. If they didn’t do anything wrong, then I can’t control whether it happens to me. However, this creates an unsupportive, and even hostile, environment for the survivor.
Today, I want to just help raise awareness by listing some statistic about sexual assault. These are not mean to scare but to inform people about rape and sexual assault in America. These statistics came from the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) website: www.rainn.org.
- Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
- 207,754 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault a year
- 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
- About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
- 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
- 54% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years.
- Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.
- Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
- More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occured within 1 mile of their home or at their home.