APRIL IS NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH

March is National Self-Harm Awareness Month
March 13, 2017
Forget Facts & Figures: TreasureLives’ Founder Gets Personal
May 3, 2017
Show all

~ Melody Nolan, M.S.

In an effort to promote this blog on Twitter, I researched the top 10 hashtags on sexual assault. Included were #sexualassault, #sexualabuse, #domesticviolence, and #rape. Then, the list became broad and included #women and #rapeculture. Finally, it narrowed to #DonaldTrump, #Trump, and #BrockTurner. I would have much preferred to see #childsexualabuse, #childrape, or #malerape in the Top 10 as opposed to names and words that reduce sexual assault to a women’s issue, political issue, or cultural issue.

Defining Sexual Assault

What is sexual assault? According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, sexual assault contains “a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offenderSexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. It also includes verbal threats.”

Sexual assault as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice is contradictory in that it includes rape: Sexual assault is any type of sexual conduct or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient…forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.” Please note: minors cannot consent; a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol, regardless of choice, cannot consent. While one may discuss the cognitive capability of teenagers to consent or the moral issues associated with an adult willingly becoming drunk or high and then engaging in sexual activity, from a legal standpoint there is no debate: No explicit consent equals sexual assault. Period.

STATISTICS: Please note that statistics are based on reported crimes Fear, shame, inadequate education as to what constitutes a crime, and lack of access to the legal system and adequate representation leave many crimes unreported. Therefore, all numbers cited are conservative.

Male Victims of Sexual Assault *Please see “When Men Are Raped” by Hanna Rosin bit.ly/Male_Rape_Stats

A population often ignored in statistics regarding sexual abuse is men. Therefore, I am going to address them, first. According to the most recent government statistics as reported by womenshealth.gov (yes, you read that correctly,) almost 2 million men in the United States have been raped. Nearly 6% of men have been sexually coerced, and approximately 11% of men have experienced unwanted sexual contact.

In 2013, the National Crime Victimization Survey surveyed 40,000 households about rape and sexual violence. The result? A staggering 38 percent of sexual crimes were inflicted upon males, and the majority of those who sexually assaulted males were women. This was such a significant increase from previous reports of 5% to 14% that the findings were presented to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which concurred. The explanation for the increase is unclear, but one factor may be representative of changes in how the law interprets rape and sexual assault: For example: In 2010, the Center for Disease Control recognized a category of sexual violence referred to as “being made to penetrate,” and 2012, the FBI revised its definition of sexual assault to focus on penetration, with no mention of force or the victim being female. There have also been increased efforts to keep records of sexual assaults in prisons, as well as publicized cases involving male victims.

Female Victims of Sexual Assault

According to The Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 23 million women in the United States have been raped and nearly 50% have been the victim of another type of sexual assault. A breakdown of the most recent findings is below:

  • Women: Approximately 20% of females have been raped. More than 20% of African-American and Caucasian women and approximately 13% of Hispanic women have been raped.
  • Young Women: Most rape victims are below the age of 25. Nearly 50% of female rape victims are minors under the age of 18.
  • Lesbians, gays, and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Bisexual women have higher rates of sexual assault than lesbians and heterosexual women. Nearly 50% of bisexual women have been raped. Over 50% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted.

Military Victims of Sexual Assault *Please see Military Assaults Increased 11 Percent Last Year by Richard Sisk bit.ly/Soldiers_SexuallyAssaulted

Sexual assault isn’t confined to civilians: it occurs in the military, too, and because the reporting and prosecution of crimes among soldiers occur outside of the mainstream, these figures may or may not be reflected in overall data. Whether one is for or against the military is not relevant: No one, whether or not in possession of a uniform of the Armed Forces, should be subject to sexual assault. Findings of sexual harassment as reported by military.com are below:

  • Sexual assaults reported by military personnel increased 11% in 2014
  • The Sexual Assault and Response Program Office (SAPRO) report to Congress showed that in Fiscal Year 2014 the military received a total of 6,131 reports of sexual assault.
  • It is estimated that 10,600 military men and 9,600 military women were victims of sexual assault in 2014
  • The estimated percentage of active duty members experiencing any type of sexual assault was 1.54 % for all the services: For the Army, it was 1.46%; Navy 2.36 percent; Air Force; 0.78 percent; Marine Corps 1.63 percent.

Child Victims of Sexual Assault

Below are some sobering statistics published in an article by The Ark of Hope for Children in June 2016:

  • Child rape occurs every two minutes
  • 1 in 3 girls will be sexually molested before the age of 17
  • 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age of 17 (1 in 5 in Canada)
  • A sex offender molests an average of 120 victims
  • 90% of molesters abuse children they know

CONCLUSION:

No population is exempt from sexual assault. We must be mindful of our surroundings and of those people with whom we choose to associate. The best means of prevention are attention and education. The best protections against recidivism are the reporting and prosecution of crimes and a steadfast dedication to receiving mental health treatment to address trauma.

*IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS BEEN A VICTIM*

*OF SEXUAL ASSAULT*

*PLEASE CONTACT*

The National Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7

Phone: 1-800-656-4673

Online Chat: www.online.rainn.org

7 Comments

  1. Smithd828 says:

    I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks! ackkddkakfbdffed

    • Hello. I’m glad you can relate to my blog. Unless I have a long-lost cousin of whom I am unaware, we aren’t related: My name is Melody Nolan and I am the founder of TreasureLives Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Awareness. You may benefit from our homepage at bit.ly/TreasureLives. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. Sincerely, Melody.

  2. Kat says:

    I’ve been researching sexual assault stats in Australia for an article I’m writing at the moment .The figures are staggering yet conviction rates here are unbelievably low. We have a long way to go in providing justice for survivors as our legal system provides too much protection for offenders.

  3. Anton says:

    This problem is common for many countries including my native one – Ukraine. I claim that none of the people I know have been sexually assaulted (luckily). But the problem exists and ukrainian authorities pay attention to that. In the recent years, 21% of the ukrainian National budget spendings have been social protection spendings. And that is the 2nd place on the list after the education espenses!

    • That’s wonderful to hear, Anton. I’ll have to research what percentage of the United States’ budget goes to “social protection.” What types of programs does that entail? ~ Melody

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *