April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually Assaulted.11 1 in 4 college women has been a victim of rape or of an attempted rape.8 Those are a daunting statistics! I am a statistic! Join me this month in raising awareness of this epidemic, not just on college campuses, but nationwide. Share my “Know the Facts” page on my blog with as many as you can. Why is it important to know the facts? I believe if you know the facts you can make informed decisions.

Had I known the facts when I was raped, I think my response would have been different. I was raped in the first month of my first year of college. A time when statistically I was at an increased risk, when 50% of all college sexual assaults occur. I fell into the 27% who did not identify their sexual assault as rape because I also fell under the 84% who knew their attacker. I was also a part of the 57% who were raped on a date.

I thought rapists lurked in dark alleys. Rapes were perpetrated by strangers, not someone who works to gain your trust. Not someone who would remain a part of your life for an extended period. I also believe I am a part of the 70% whose rapes were planned unbeknownst to them. Since I didn’t see my rape as a rape, I knew my rapist & it happened on a date, I also fell into the category of the 42% who told no one (at least for a time). Thomas Gray coined the phrase “Ignorance is Bliss,” but I have not found this to be true in my life. Ignorance gives way to poor uniformed decisions and sometimes even fear.

As I came to terms with being raped, whilst facing my rapist on a regular basis, I fell into the 33% who contemplated suicide. I also joined the 13% who attempted suicide. I fell into the category of the 70% who experienced moderate to severe distress.

Hopefully knowing the facts will empower you. Share the facts with the women in your life. Make sure young women between the ages of 18 and 24 are aware of their increased risk of rape. Make sure young women headed off to college are informed of the daunting statists of rape on college campuses. Be aware that “75% of men and 55% of women involved in acquaintance rape had been drinking and/or taking drugs before the attack.” Knowing that certain behaviors increase risk, may help prevent someone from becoming a future statistic as well. I believe the only way this epidemic will ever improve is for people to be informed and thus hopefully make wiser choices that prevent them from becoming a future statistic.

SOURCES:

  1. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders (1997).
  2. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Victimization Among College-Aged Females, 1995-2013 (2014).
  3. D.S. Riggs, T. Murdock, W. Walsh, A prospective examination of post-traumatic stress disorder in rape victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress 455-475 (1992).
  4. J. R. T. Davidson & E. B. Foa (Eds.) Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: DSM-IV and Beyond. American Psychiatric Press: Washington, DC. (pp. 23-36).
  5. DG Kilpatrick, CN Edumuds, AK Seymour. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. Arlington, VA: National Victim Center and Medical University of South Carolina (1992).
  6. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Socio-emotional Impact of Violent Crime (2014).
  7. National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey (1998).
  8. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2014 (2015).
  9. Campus Sexual Assault Study, 2007; Matthew Kimble, Andrada Neacsiu, et. Al, Risk of Unwanted Sex for College Women: Evidence for a Red Zone, Journal of American College Health (2008).
  10. David Cantor, Bonnie Fisher, Susan Chibnall, Reanna Townsend, et. al. Association of American Universities (AAU), Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (September 21, 2015).
  11. Warshaw, Robin. The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape & I Never Called It Rape. New York: Harper Perennial. 1994
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