In recognition of sexual assault and violence awareness we will be covering some facts about sexual assault and how to spread the word about safety. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, like most things it can cross racial, ethnic, gender, religious, economic, age, and societal barriers. Sexual violence is a very serious public health problem that affects millions of girls, boys, women and men. In the United States alone, 1 in 5 women have either experienced completed or attempted sexual assault, and about 1 in 15 men have been made to penetrate someone in their lifetime. Most victims of completed or attempted sexual assault first experienced sexual violence before age 25. Sexual violence can be committed by anyone, there is not specific “type” of person that commit these crimes. Actual statistics on the level, occurrence, and severity of sexual assault are unclear as many victims are afraid or ashamed to tell police, family members or friends about the attack. As a result of failure to report the assault statistics often underestimate the problem.
Awareness does not and should not be relegated to the month of April, but should be an ongoing process to educate, prevent, and provide treatment to those affected and those that love them. In order to fully recognize and understand the impact of sexual assault it must be viewed in the context of individual, family, community, and societal as an issues with many extensive and complicated prongs.
Sexual violence is any sexual activity that is unwanted or consent is not freely given. This includes completed or attempted sex acts that are against the victim’s will or involve a victim who is unable to consent (not able to consent because of age, limited mental capacity, inebriated, or under some other mood or mind altering drug).
Sexual Assault or Violence can include but are not limited to:
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Non-contact (physical), unwanted sexual experiences (such as verbal sexual harassment)
Sexual Assault or Violence can be perpetrated by:
- A current or former intimate partner
- A family member
- A person in position of power or trust
- A friend or acquaintance
- A stranger, or someone known only by sight
Sexual Assault and Sexual violence has the capacity to negatively influence and impact the victim’s health in several different ways; that include but are not limited to long-term physical, emotional, and mental health problems. Victims can experience and re-experience the pain associated with the assault years after it has occurred. Challenges associated with sexual assault include depression, anxiety, sexually transmitted diseases, interruptions in eating and sleeping patterns, building and sustaining relationships, suicidal thoughts or ideations, difficulty trusting others, sexual dysfunctions, trouble managing moods, etc.
If you know or think someone you know has been sexually assaulted encourage them to report the crime, violence and sickness thrives in secret therefore in order to heal it must be released. In addition to reporting the assault encourage the victim to seek counseling and medical treatment for issues associated with the crime and those that may be yet to come.