April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Too many women, men, and children suffer alone or in silence, burdened by shame or unsure anyone will listen. This month, we recommit to changing that tragic reality by stopping sexual assault before it starts and ensuring victims get the support they need…we must also recommit to ending it in our military - because no one serving our country should be at risk of assault by a fellow service member.
- President Barack Obama
This quote is from President Obama's 2013 Presidential Proclamation for National Sexual Assault Awareness Prevention Month. I applaud him for taking the time to recognize the seriousness of this issue and to show respect to the all-too-many victims of horrendous sexual assault crimes.
This is the time to talk about the taboos that are normally swept under the rug. It's time to give sexual assault survivors a valued voice in the conversation about sexual violence.
Here are some things to know:
- The goal of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to "raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence" (NSAAM official website).
- This year's campaign focuses on encouraging healthy sexuality as well as preventing child sexual abuse.
- One in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
- In 8 out of 10 instances of rape, the victim knew his or her perpetrator.
- The costs associated with rape (legal, law enforcement, medical care, etc.) exceed the costs of any other type of crime in the United States, with an annual average cost of $127 billion.
- Eighty-one percent of women and 35% of men report short- or long-term effects of rape such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Over 12% of women who have experienced rape were under 10 years old at the time of their first rape.
- Almost 28% of men who have experience rape were under 10 years old at the time of their first rape.
- One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual abuse before they turn the age of 18.
If you are as disturbed as I am about these statistics, here are some things you can do:
Learn. Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to download resources about sexual violence and how to recognize and prevent it in your community.
Talk. One of the main goals of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to raise consciousness of the seriousness of this issue. For tips on how to start the conversation in person and on social networks, check out these resources provided on the NSAAM official website.
Connect. If you want to find others who are working to prevent sexual violence, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides many opportunities to connect including events, trainings, and an online forum. Find out more by clicking here.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center (2012). Statistics about sexual violence. Online Fact Sheet: http://nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/Publications_NSVRC_Factsheet_Media-Packet_Statistics-about-sexual-violence.pdf