~ 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 offender. Sexual 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:
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:
Child Victims of Sexual Assault
Below are some sobering statistics published in an article by The Ark of Hope for Children in June 2016:
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*
The National Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7
Online Chat: www.online.rainn.org