Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Did you know that April is sexual assault awareness month? The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys will be raped by the age of 18. And, 25,000 women become pregnant each year as a result of rape. 1 in 5 women report being raped in their lifetime according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and more than 1/2 of these report being raped by an intimate partner.
Of sexual abuse victims, according to the CDC, nearly a third of women reported being victims of unwanted sexual contact by family members at some point in their lifetime (NISVS, 2010). 1 in 71 men will be raped, approximately 50 percent of which by an acquaintance.
Sexual abuse is more common than most people realize. Nearly 48.8 percent of respondents to the CDC survey also reported psychological aggression and stalking with 69 percent of female victims compared with 53 percent of male victims reporting problems with stalking.
The Impact of Sexual Abuse
The impacts of sexual abuse are tremendous. Fear, safety concerns and post traumatic stress disorder are common among victims. Missed work, increased anxiety, stress and lost social opportunities also arise as a result of sexual abuse. Poor future relationships and trust issues may develop.
An important part of addressing sexual abuse is holding responsible parties accountable. Prevention is also important. Children must be taught at an early age what a healthy, loving relationship looks like.
Sexual abuse victims must have the support of the law to back claims against perpetrators and the support of victim advocates to defend charges against perpetrators.
Providing Proper Resources
One of the most important steps in protecting victims of sexual abuse is educating the public about sexual abuse, and providing proper resources to survivors. Sexual abuse survivors often need community support, housing, counseling and other resources to move on with their lives.
This may be challenging when to get away from a perpetrator a survivor may have had to travel long distances and may not have the proper tools they need to access public resources. Communities can assist abuse survivors by making it easier to gain access to community health facilities, domestic violence shelters, mental health agencies, and other support facilities.
Creating a resource facility that is accessible should be a top priority. Educating the public and creating a society where violence is not the norm, or socially acceptable should also be a priority. Support efforts based on data dependent on city historical records and violence statistics should motivate city council efforts to do what is necessary to create safe and accessible communities for all citizens, particularly crime survivors.
The Denver Domestic Violence Coordinating Council works to respond to sexual abuse and domestic violence and provide a multi-disiplinary approach to community safety while holding perpetrators accountable.
SafeHouse Denver @ 303-318-9989
Photo Credit: Moggs Oceanlane (a) Flickr